Diary of a Highland Lady - April/May 2003
Media star IVY FERRET continues her chronicle of life in an idyllic croft in the Scottish Highlands but she has discovered that although the scenery is beautiful, the name of her new home isn't!
I realised after I had written my first Diary entry that I hadn't mentioned Christmas and Hogmanay. I can only say I was still jet lagged from the journey and traumatised from the arrival of the Three Masketeers. Christmas is a peaceful time up here but Hogmanay - well! In the remote Highlands it has a flavour all of its own. Of whisky mostly! With no pubs within miles, the locals get together in their dress tartan, have a belting ceilidh and, on the stroke of midnight, rush out on to the hilltops, kilts akimbo, and fire shotguns into the air. Then they rush back and carry on the festivities until well into the following week.
On witnessing this, I thought I'd better adopt the ways of my new home so I started learning Gaelic. I was horrified to find out what our area 'Durnamuck' meant! I'd thought it was an inelegant sounding name (actually, I was afraid that people would start calling me Lady Durnamuck and then start leaving out the 'Durna' part) but do you know what it means? OAK THICKET OF THE PIGS!!! We could have moved to nice sounding places like Ardessie, Camasnamara or Dundonnell, but, no we had to come to the Oak Thicket of the Pigs. And there isn't a single oak - let alone a thicket - for miles, and pigs? What pigs? I tell you, it's all part of this odd behaviour of Dr June's.
You know, confidentially, between you and me, I am a little worried about her. I've heard that normally rational women can suddenly go off their trolleys and start keeping imaginary cats. I shan't be a bit surprised if her trolley is wobbling already. She'll probably decide to go backpacking across India and end up getting arrested for slapping McDonald's stickers on the sacred cows. It's quite a worry for me. After all, I have my reputation to consider.
Anyway, I shelved the Gaelic while I recovered from the shock and decided to look into tartans. Since I've been experimenting in the coal scuttles and peat buckets I've had a brilliant idea, I could use the resulting tints to have my own tartan! It's to be a lovely muted shading of black, grey and tan, with just a hint of burgundy. I think I'll call it the Black Swatch. It'll be much more sophisticated that those rather garish reds. And speaking of garish - I had to laugh when I looked up poor Dr Jeff's tartan. The battle tartan's OK, quite a nice blue, but the dress tartan is a large check in brilliant yellow and black! Imagine the clan rushing into battle looking like extras from Braveheart and then coming home and dressing up like Rupert Bear on their days off! Perhaps I'll let the poor man wear my tartan instead, it's the least I can do. Besides, I need to make sure we appear respectable for meeting the local gentry.
You see, I'm not the only celeb up here, there are quite a few notables. And there's also that nice chap who owns the shop in London - Harrods, it's called. I'm rather hoping that a word in the right direction and I may be saved some of the more tedious shopping trips. Shopping is so difficult up here, the nearest shop is an ironmongers nearly 30 miles away. It's a very good ironmongers but not quite in the same league as Harrods or Harvey Nics.
Now, the latest on the Three Masketeers, the trio of young raccoons. They have reached the 'teenage thug' stage and career around with no thoughts of who or what they collide with. I have no idea when raccoons grow brakes or steering but I hope it isn't too much longer. Poor Dr June goes into their pen every morning to clean them and feed them and eventually staggers out in a terrible state. Hair pulled, legs chewed, pockets ransacked and ripped. They even locked the door on her once by pulling the latch down on their side. I could hear them giggling about it, too. Yet when the licensing people came to approve their enclosures, they behaved so innocently, you'd think butter wouldn't melt - now I wonder who they learned that from.
I'm still working very hard. Life as a media star can be exhausting. In fact, I had to make the decision to take on staff. Of course, you can't expect ferrets of my talent to pop up very often, but I felt I should be able to find a couple of presentable helpers. My dear friend Julie from Sleaford Ferret Rescue rose to the occasion. I asked her to audition a few good looking hobs for me and she came up with a short list of four - a pair of albinos and a pair of silvers. I arranged for them all to come for the final interviews here in Scotland. I have to say I rather liked the idea of the albino boys because we should fly the flag for albinos since there's so many in rescue, but they had actually got a job offer elsewhere they wanted to consider. As it turns out, they have stayed in Scotland and gone off to be the only ferrets on the Summer Isles, which isn't far from me, so I can call on them if I need extra help.
This meant I took on the two silver lads. They are both terribly 'luvvie', although that's not necessarily a problem in showbiz. It's just that they are a bit temperamental to work with. Button (because he has a black nose) is given to temper tantrums and Beau (because he hasn't got a black nose) is a real wind-up merchant. He gets Button stamping mad just for the hell of it. Privately, I call them Snorkel and Snodgrass because Beau spends a lot of time with his head completely submerged snorkelling in the dog's water bowl, blowing bubbles, and Button is like a comic strip image of a spoilt swotty kid who screams and cries if he's teased or can't get his own way. They usually have names like Snodgrass. If Button were a jill, he'd be like Violet-Elizabeth in the 'Just William' books, because, if he can't get his own way, he 'quweamths and quweamths until he'th thick'. Still, apart from that, they are both nice lads, prepared to work hard, and very good with people so they'll probably make good assistants in my work. I'll keep you posted.