Pangolin Science

 Your Wildlife Continued...

'Hi, its Willow and Josh here, out braving the cold, damp, mud and shite so you don’t have to!'
'Can we say “shite”, Willow?'
'Well you talk it all the time Josh! Hahahah! Only kidding. Anyway, what’s big on our radar this week Josh?'
'Oh it's a packed programme this week, Willow. We’ve got all the usual tripe about little brown birds nobody cares about...'
'Apart from that Besley chap, Josh.'
'That’s right Willow, he does, doesn’t he? Takes all sorts. Then we’ve a fascinating piece about Fawcett’s Longnosed Woodlice which are making a welcome comeback in the uprights of Wigan Pier whilst our Man of the Wilds, Ivan Lentil has been trying to convince Kill Bill Baxendale that fenceposts do not give cows T.B. Over to you Ivan....'
'Josh, thanks. Yes, Kill Bill and I have been looking at some interesting data from somewhere or other which seems to prove conclusively that fenceposts are incapable of carrying T.B.on account of them being made of wood and dead. Bill was clearly deeply affected by this information and said to me, “But Oi killed ‘undreds ‘o those boogers. Yo mean to tell Oi they is innocent?” 
Quite why Bill was using that accent I don’t know, what with him being from Glossop. But he perked up no end when I told him that the latest theory is that cattle get T.B. from wandering poets and arty-farty types who do tend mince about the place during the summer getting inspiration from daffodils and bunnies and other soppy things. Bill knows nothing of the Art scene, so is ignorant of the fact that artists and poets and the like do tend to favour T.B. as their disease of choice, so its not surprising they spread it when they go sneezing all over Bill’s cows. Anyway, he’s away up on the high meadow now looking for anybody with a pen and a funny walk.' 
(Background FX, I wandered lonely as a... BANG!)

'Ivan, thanks. That really is good news, and well done you. Bill’s not easily convinced about anything. And I think that’s about it for this week Willow....'
'Yes it is Josh, but not before I take a second to acknowledge the hundreds of letters we’ve had objecting to our humorous use of T.B. We got them. Get a life. Byeeee...'

 The Advent of the Crested Henfumbler

 Wildlife is what buzzes round your head in a low-cost Bed & Breakfast and then dies in your egg. Wildlife is what trundles across the carpet every night as the news comes on. Wildlife is what joins you in the bath when you’d rather it didn’t. Wildlife is never where you want it to be.
Take up binoculars, dress as a section of woodland, lurk in a damp hollow and the chances are that you will see nothing. However, all around you will have had a field day, filling their notebooks with rare sightings of porpoise and pine marten. This is what happens in bird hides.

Scene: a draughty outpost on the edge of a bog
Enter Innocent Visitor (IV), anorak swish and heavy boot on creaking floorboard causing Serious Watchers (SW) at every window to spin round and glare. 

IV settles on perch, raises field-glasses and stares. Five minutes pass like five hours. Silence broken by low whisper of Bearded Expert (BE) alongside –

BE: Pair of Brunwalters…
IV: Wha –
SW: Tsk!
BE: Brunwalter’s Snorkelling Little Owls… crossing the Sound… 2 o’clock from bushy-
topped tree… the one with the Crested Henfumbler… hear it a mile off… that’s not
a Corbelled Goat Pipit, is it? Small brown thing… just gone down…
IV: I –
SW: Sssssh.
Etc. etc.
Small brown birds look like all other small brown birds in the book, but never a sure enough match for positive identification. They are too small for that. This is the other problem with wildlife: it is rarely the right size. Take ticks, too small to see until too late. Were ticks the size of elephants, you would spot them well ahead and take avoiding action. They would not be able to drop from the undersides of bracken, crawl up your leg, bury their heads in your flesh and gorge on the contents. It simply would not happen. (Conversely, elephants the size of ticks would be less likely to trample villages or be hunted for their ivory.) Or midges. A well designed midge would be the size of a ptarmigan, say, or grouse. That way, it would have been blasted out of existence long ago by gun-toting members of the aristocracy - all but a select few, hand-reared on large estates for sporting purposes (midges, that is, and also aristocracy). Which leads me to end on a footnote in history –
A regular jape for guests at weekend house parties thrown by Edward VII at Sandringham would be to find under the bedclothes as they retired an item from the day’s bag – a newly shot pheasant or hare – in place of the anticipated footwarmer. Now don’t tell me that lot did not know how to party.

Pangolin Guide to Wildlife

Pangolin researchers, led by the prominent zoologist Dr.Agnetha Grossli-Bentdottir, have long been concerned about increasing levels of public interest in wildlife. “These woolly-thinking do-gooders do more harm than good," says Dr Grossli-Bentdottir. “Constantly saving whales and building hedgehog tunnels is seriously upsetting Nature’s delicate balance. And as for these touchy-feelie sanctuaries which are springing up all over the place, soon we’ll be overrun with superannuated donkeys and cosseted pangolins.”
Hard words but necessary thinks Dr Grossli-Bentdottir. “In my native Iceland, when I was a child - if it had a pulse, we clubbed it and ate it and it didn’t do us any harm. Nowadays, Reykjavic (sic) is covered with Arctic Tern pooh caused by bloody wildlife enthusiasts putting anchovy sandwiches out for the little blighters. They don’t bother flying south any more for the winter. They just waddle about the place crapping on everything. Including our banks. And PLEASE don’t give me that old hogwash about plants and trees and flowers being wildlife. Can they walk, run, growl, squeak, fly? No, so how the hell can anybody be serious about something called Bladderwort or Ladies’ Nostril?”
Of course, opinions differ, and Ted Thump, Head Keeper at the Glossop Pangolin Experience says of Dr Grossli-Bentdottir’s comments: “Sounds like a daft cow to me".
So, in the light of these expert opinions, once again, it falls to The Pangolin to offer clear general pointers. The following Brief Guide flags up, in no particular order, what is Good Wildlife and what is A Bit Iffy.
Fieldmice are OK because they live in fields and don’t come indoors. Mice that do come in your house are Bad and should be squashed, gassed or poisoned. Same with badgers. If you discover a badger living in your house and it’s a bit wheezy, its probably got T.B. and should be kept away from any cattle you may have in your home. Friendly local farmers can always be called upon to sort any badger infestation.
Woodlice are very horrid and creep about underneath stuff. Ants are nasty too, as are slugs, tics,  wasps, bluebottles, magpies, pigeons, starlings, spiders, squirrels and when startled, Cape Buffaloes. Keeping a pangolin can help with some of the above, although tests have shown that pangolins don’t do well against any type of bison.
Sparrows, blue tits, robins, field buntings, Snapshott’s whimbrels, butterflies, hedgehogs and owls are all Good, as are fluffy little foxcubs, except when the latter stop being cubs, at which point they must be pursued by fat toffs on horses and torn to bits by fat toffs’ dogs. 
Swallows, swifts and house martins are all good because they make us go, “Aaah”, and dive about the place showing off, whereas rabbits, despite being furry and cuddly are not good because farmers say so. Moths are Bad because, as everyone knows, they eat our underwear. Seagulls should be killed on sight because they steal our chips.
Be advised that this can only be a very general guide. Space prohibits a more detailed discussion of this fascinating subject, and questions such as how do shags get through life with such an awful name and whether worms carry on wriggling in blackbirds' tummies after they’ve been swallowed whole, will be answered in a later issue if Dr Grossli-Bentdottir is ever released . 

Our Science Correspondent Dr P J Whimbrel reports...

Pleb sources close to Downing Street suggest to The Pangolin that David Cameron and Nick Clegg are soon to roll out a raft of proposals aimed at beefing up Mr Cameron’s long – awaited Happiness legislation. 

At a recent meeting with advisers and Eric Pickles, popularly tipped to become the UK’s first Happiness Tsar, Mr Cameron unveiled plans to install electronic thought readers in all urban conurbations.

“Look,"said the Prime Minister, “Let me make this perfectly clear. We want people to be happy, right? Psychologist johnnies tell me that having bad thoughts about something or somebody can make you unhappy, OK? So because this administration is like really in touch and down and dirty with all our brothers and sisters out there, my government and I are going to come down hard on people thinking bad unhappy-making thoughts.”

Mr Eric Pickles, accompanied by a large Alsatian spoke to waiting reporters outside the meeting, echoing his Leaders’ proposals. “Look,” he said. “ Let me make this perfectly clear, the electronic devices will be fitted to lamp posts or other lofty structures and will be tuned to peoples’ bad thoughts. 
In the first instance, they will be limited to folks’ bad thoughts about Mr Cameron, Mr Clegg, Mr Osborne and fat buggers with big dogs, but later their remit may be widened to include royalty, the Church, the U.S.A, the BBC and bankers."

At this point Mr Pickles introduced Frau Olga Goebbels (no relation), Technical Director of YM – MM (Your Mind is My Mind), manufacturers of the Happithink devices. Frau Goebbles said, “Ven der kleine box is detecting der bad thoughts about our superiors is send out der small not so painful taser blast. Undt zen der bad thinkings stop."

Pangolin’s religious affairs correspondent, Olwyn Goodfellow, tells us “The Anglican Church seem to be sitting on the fence with this one whilst the latest Papal encyclical urges local councils to be sparing in their reliance of the Happithink devices as taser blasts can have a contraceptive effect.”

The Nature of Time

The Pangolin’s Science Correspondence Dr P J Whimbrel answers some of the thousands of letters and emails we’ve had about the nature of Time. What is it? Where does it go?

From Barry in Dawlish:
“What’s all this stuff about time running out? They’re always telling us stuff’s running out. Gas, oil, an’ it never does. OK there might be the odd queue but it never runs out does it? It's just there innit.”

And Mrs Jean Flambard MSc, in Bath.
“Surely time is the ultimate barrier linked as it is to the speed of light and velocities humans can never achieve".
Dr Whimbrel writes:

“Whoa Jean! Heavy, heavy! You’ve been watching Beeb 4 haven’t you? Maybe peeking at all that stuff coming out of CERN, yeah? But you’re probably right, OK? Besides, Godwit and Zyrcwzc’s work on time travel suggests that if we DID travel back and forth in time, our natural curiosity would really screw things up. I mean we’d fiddle, right? Who could resist getting Elvis onto a drugs rehabilitation programme or taking Himmler to one side and beating the shit out of him? Or having the final goal disallowed in 1966?”

(Pause here for Dr Whimbrel to have a bit of a lie down).

“And Barry – a practical chap obviously – you’ll be pleased to know that for years scientists have suspected that like gas and oil, this planet has vast reservoirs of time buried somewhere. Occasionally, operating a bit like volcanoes, a bit of time leaks out into the atmosphere through a vent. Some think that our very own Prime Minister is such a vent. Whenever he speaks, time seems to pass very slowly. 

But we’re a long way from being sure about this. Mr Cameron was approached some time ago by Dr Godwit to see if the PM has a vent. Ugly scenes followed with Dr Godwit being called an interfering Pleb and being made to give Mr Cameron his trousers back. Best I can do Baz. Time will tell.”

Wow. Dontcha love that Science! Next time we’ll be talking to Kate Rumble from BBC’s Slimewatch about why slugs crawl up garage walls at night. Can’t wait!

Your Wildlife

A regular programme dedicated to the fairly boring old stuff you’ll be able to see given your sedentary lifestyles. No white rhinos here!

Your reporters, Willow McFadden (a real hand–wringer when it comes to the small furries) and Josh Grafter (who knows damn all about wildlife, but is good-looking and provides a bit of eye-candy for those who like that sort of thing. Josh is constantly amazed at anything vaguely wildlife–ish Willow might say in her breathless, orgasmic delivery).

Visiting experts include: local farmer Kill Bill Baxendale who will shoot anything. Kill believes that cows can get T.B. from fenceposts.

Environmentalist Joanna Nice who is even wetter than Willow.

Survival specialist Ivan  Lentil who perfected the collection, preparation and serving of pebbles during the siege of Sarajevo.

So, there you have it.

Over now to Willow...

Smiles, checks carefully disarranged hair. 

“Hello, and welcome to Your Wildlife!"
“I say, look! I don’t know much about these things, but isn’t that a tit?”

Willow zips up anorak, glares at Josh. 

“Actually no it isn’t, Josh, but it’s a very easy mistake to make. That’s a Godolphin’s Warbler, first recorded by the Rev E A Godolphin way back in the late 1700s. Like the tit, it only has two legs, one head and a beak and flies about quite a lot, too”.

“Huh well thanks Willow, I’ve a lot to learn about the countryside, that’s for sure. But wait! I’ve just stepped on something soft. Its not running away or anything. But what is it, Willow?”

“That’s cow shit, Josh”
(distant BANG!)

Willow:  “Hear that Josh?”

Josh:  “Certainly did Willow. Was it a car backfiring?”

Willow:  “Up here on the high meadows above Glossop?”

Josh:  "Gosh yes. I see what you mean Willow. I’ve certainly got a lot to…”

Willow: “Stop saying that!”

Willow:  “There – up on the skyline – it's Kill Bill Baxendale culling fenceposts! Let’s go and have a word with a true son of the soil, eh Josh?”

Josh:  “Right-ho Willow. Suits me!”

Willow:  “Yo! Bill! What are you up to this fine morning?"

Kill Bill (for it is he): “I’m just sendin’ a few of these disease-ridden vermin back to their maker."

Josh: “And is it working?”

Kill Bill: "Well, in a manner of speakin’ it 'as…except…

Willow: “Except what Bill?”

Kill Bill: “All me cows 'ave buggered off.”

Willow: “So, on that difficult note which illustrates some of the problems faced by farmers with mental health issues, we’ve come to the end of this edition of Your Wildlife. Be sure to join us next time when I’ll be teaching Josh the difference between crap and creatures and also passing on a few tips about how to care for injured tits."


  1. I been thikning abot this time busness. Its all my ars.

  2. Look at that ! Not one comment since December 2012 ! And even that one appears to be from a complete clod. I sometimes think that the thousands, nay millions of people who visit this site don't take life anywhere seriously enough.
    Take the Time Thing. Its very important. Time's the one thing we can't preserve. I did try last Christmas and popped thirty-five minute's worth into a kilner jar. Put it under the sink. But it leaked and since then I've had my granny singing "Silent Night" amongst the anti-bacterial sprays for months.
    Pierre Bonquers


Go on... you want to say SOMETHING, don't you? Post under a made-up name if you're shy!