Saturday, November 19, 2016

Little Cup Cakes - From O. Reader

Pets and rock and roll              

When my daughter was small we decided that a small pet was in order - heartlessly, one that wasn’t going to live so long we would still be looking after it when she was grown up and gone. We settled on a Syrian Hamster. All Syrian hamsters around the world apparently come from one litter discovered in the wild in 1930 - (you see, the real purpose of my posts is to educate...) - although there are bigger and smaller varieties in the wild. Hamsters can be tamed after a fashion and apart from vigorous and repeated acts of procreation much prefer their own company. So they make an ideal small pet, although many a hamster purchased has been secretly gestating and turned into a family. (One later replacement did just that).

My daughter named it after a school friend, K.  We purchased a cage - all tubes and paper bedding, and waited for it to wake up at night, having slept like a log all through the day. The main thing we learned was that hamsters like to escape. Forget all those POW escape films, K was the master.  If a tunnel could be dug, he/she/it would dig it. If something could be scaled and with knotted sheets a descent made, then K was your man or girl or whatever.

We had my wife’s grandmother living with us at the time. She was in her nineties and her bed was in our former living room downstairs, which now also contained a hamster cage and hamster. Fortunately the hamster didn’t smell and Nana was stone deaf, although her eyesight was very good. We got quite used to midnight ructions as she rang her bell and hollered as a little face was seen myopically peering up at her. K’s greatest adventure was to escape from the cage, travel through several rooms to the kitchen, scale the vegetable rack, and purloin a whole carrot. It was a very large carrot - several times the hamster’s size in length. K munched away a bit at the middle, so that he/she/it could get a mouthful with several inches of carrot either side and then made the long march to home. Unfortunately scaling the precipice to get back into its own bed proved too much, and next morning we found a very grumpy very tired hamster, still clutching its prize, and extremely reluctant to let go of it.

Now why on earth did I suddenly think of K and a chortling daughter after all these years? I guess it is because Mrs O had an email yesterday from Amy Goddard, who we know well, to inform us that she has just obtained - not a hamster - but a pygmy hedgehog. She sent us a photo. Think cute, and intelligent comments like aaah and oooh. Amy and co. had a Labrador dog for many years that sadly died recently, and only because there was now no longer a dog to take an unhealthy interest in a rodent rival did they agree to take on this spiky little creature from a rescue center. Apparently they act very much like hamsters, and can be given exercise in much the same sort of ways.

All those years ago, our daughter called her hamster K. Amy has called her pygmy hedgehog, Heggie-Sue. It probably comes from having parents who almost go back to the era of Buddy Holly and Holly’s group the Crickets. (I know they won’t mind that being said). Holly and his drummer Jerry Alison wrote the song Peggy Sue to impress Allison’s high school sweetheart Peggy Sue Garron. The subsequent marriage went down the tubes, and Allison spent the rest of his career therapeutically thumping the hell out of a drum kit each night in a hymn to his ex-wife because the world wanted to hear that distinctive song.

I remember I saw a version of the post-Holly Crickets on tour with Nanci Griffith. Very good they were too. And lead singer Sony Curtis (fine songwriter himself) introduced the song -

“Here’s a song our drummer wrote about his first ex-wife...  (pause)   ...she gave him some of the best weekends of her life...”

Then Wham, Bam, “If you knew Peggy Sue, then you know why I feel blue...”

And Curtis did a good impersonation of Holly as he hiccupped and gargled and burped his way through the song.

So I suppose this rambling post is about rock and roll classics and pets and pygmy hedgehogs. I understand that Amy - songwriter herself - has now resorted to plagiarism and has been heard wandering through her kitchen:

Heggie-Sue, Heggie-Sue, Prickly, prickly, prickly, prickly, Heggie-Sue...

I suggested that she may like to consider it for her next album. However, for some unfathomable reason, she doesn’t seem all that keen...