Thursday, October 27, 2011

Give me a home where the wallabies roam

Apologies again to any readers who headed down to Avon Street car park to see for themselves the evidence – in the shape of a large poster –  that Tesco was transporting the city of Bath 100 miles east to London.

Unfortunately events moved on: almost overnight, it seemed, a new poster advertising oven chips had gone up on the same site.

More grist to the conspiracy theorists’ mill, you may think. And you’d probably be right.

For now, though, Bath is still comfortably ensconced in its niche in the heart of North East Somerset.

Where, it appears, even stranger things are afoot. For reports have reached the Bath Chronicle newsroom from an impeccable source (one of the chaps in advertising) that wallabies have been seen roaming the rolling hills of Saltford.

Yes, you read that right. Wallabies. Australian marsupials. With pouches. Quite good at boxing. But not as good as kangaroos.

There should be a joke about that. “What’s the difference between a wallaby and a kangaroo?”

But there isn’t.

A joke, that is. Not a difference.

Funny, though. You can drive the winding lanes of B&NES for weeks on end without seeing anything more exotic than the occasional dead badger, and then all of a sudden, out hops an antipodean anomaly.

Start to do some research and you’ll soon wish you hadn’t. There are at least 44 species of wallaby, ranging in alphabetical order from the Agile Wallaby to the Yellow-Footed Rock-Wallaby by way of the Dusky Pademelon and the Gray Dorcopsis. Although those last two sound more like  impostors than proper macropods.

You couldn’t make this sort of thing up. Well you could, actually, and no-one would be any the wiser.

But it’s true, all true. Small mobs* of wallabies do indeed roam this green and pleasant land. They’ve been reported from as far afield as Loch Lomond, the Peak District and even the fields around Gatwick Airport.

They escape from zoos or are released from private collections, and have no trouble surviving in a climate very similar to that of their native Tasmania.

Dig deeper into the world of the wallaby and you’ll find companies that sell them as pets or as self-propelled lawnmowers.

One such firm will even supply  a trained reindeer (£1250, no VAT), with its own harness and sledge. But before you can buy one, you need to get a certificate from DEFRA confirming that you have far more money than sense.

The mind begins to boggle. How long can it be before clusters* of antelopes churn the hallowed turf below the Royal Crescent? How long before stands* of flamingoes circle the skies above the Pump Room before alighting pinkly and gracefully beside the Roman Baths? 

Surely it can only be a matter of time before Bath becomes one gigantic wildlife park.

Then again, maybe it already is.

* All collective nouns have been checked by the management.

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