Bolton Ferret Welfare

The Sound of Music

by Norma Williams

It was deep winter, and Bog Wood was dark, and wet, and cold. Christmas had come and gone and everyone was, in the main, minding their own business and trying to keep warm.

Down in the woods, Wayne sat on his woodpile, tapping away at his computer. A wire ran from the back of the computer to the telephone wires above the lane. Nailed to the silver birch tree which had house Wilbur the un-whelk, was a notice which said:-

BOG WOOD CARRIOKI
Janari 2005 - UGE PRIZIS
sEE IT life on the interweb!?

From somewhere above there came a panicky wailing sound. Hanging precariously from the telephone wires was Shane, pale pink heir to the Kingdom of Bog Wood. One paw was clinging to the wire, the other was dabbing at the telephone wire, which was hissing and flashing. Shane's little pink form was swaying wildly, and as they watched there was a dismal howl and a dull thud.
"Oh bugger, the connections dropped," said Wayne. "Never mind we've still got the satellite." They looked up, hovering uncertainly above the wood was Barry, the buzzard, clutching a camera.
There was a dismal sqwark and another thud.
"I'm surrounded by incompetent idiots!" screamed Wayne. He grabbed his unfortunate son and heir by the scruff. "Get on the bike." he howled and he thrust Shane towards a very small exercise bike, which was attached to the computer.
Shane began pedalling briskly, his pink face turned a dull red. The computer screen flickered.
Faster..." ordered Wayne, "I need 40 megabytes."
"I'm goin' giddy, dad."
"Did I ask you if you were goin' giddy?" Wayne clipped his son across the back of the head.
"So pedal."
"When can I stop dad?"
"When I get broadband," snarled Wayne. "Until then you're stuck with it, so pedal."

******************

"Where are we going to get a pop singer from?" asked Alice.
"We've got Ted!" said Mother, smiling fondly.
Ted, who was wearing a tight pair of running shorts which reached to his ankles, a vest with 'Sex God', printed on the front, and a pair of sunglasses pushed behind his ears.
He was extremely pleased with himself.
"These trousers are food," he said happily, "there's a hole for your tail."
Alice snorted rudely. "He's going to be useless," she added.
"Of course he isn't! Go on, Ted, give us a song."
Ted strutted across the kitchen, pounced twice, strutted back, then flung his arms out and began to sing:

'The hilllls are alive with the sound of moosic,
The song they have sung for a thousand yearsssss...'

"I told you!" said Alice darkly.
"Ted darling, we want Robbie Williams, not Julie Andrews," said Mother anxiously. "Do you know any other songs?"
Ted stared at her. "I can do a bit of 'Little Donkey'," he said, "or 'Tie me Kangaroo down, Sport'."
"Don't you know any pop tunes?"
"They are pop tunes," said Ted indignantly.
They stared at him.
"What are we going to do?"
"Leave it to me," said Alice.
So they did.

Early next morning a black taxi hurtled down the drive and screeched to a stop by the kitchen door. The driver got out and flung open the passenger door.
"Get out you little swine," he screamed, and he made groping motions towards the inside of his cab. Then gave a sharp howl of pain and withdrew a blood soaked hand.
And out of the cab came Malcolm the Mink, and Tom Jones the musical Polecat from Milford Haven.
Alice looked on proudly, with the air of one who's achieved her object and is waiting for praise.
Tom Jones pounced up to her.
"Howdy doody little lady," he yodelled. "Thank you for your email. Are you by any chance in season?"
"'ello," said Malcolm. "It's nice to see yer agen." He burped loudly. "Mind you," he added, "I wouldn't feed motorway food to a pig. I've never 'ad wind like it."
"I've had to drive over 200 miles with that pair," snarled the taxi driver. "The black one's sung 'What's new pussycat?' all the bloody way from Milford Haven and that grey thing's farted non stop stop since we stopped at Junction 5 of the M4. He's passed more gas than a carthorse on prunes. He drove off muttering and with all his windows open.
"Yo' little bro', you're new!" said Tom slapping paws with Ted, "I remember the ugly one," he nodded towards Mother, "but what happened to the big sandy pillock she used to hang out with?"
"He died," said Ted stiffly. "He was my cousin," he added.
"I'd keep quiet about that if I were you," said Tom, "oh boy was he a dork. What's the matter with her?" he nodded toward Mother who was stumbling down the garden, clutching a hankie to her face. "Wow is she weird," he continued without waiting for an answer, "Whatever she's growing down that garden, she is eating far too much of it."
And he gambolled off toward Bog Wood, shouting,
"Hello ladies!! It's party time! Thomas is here!!"

Now there aren't any polecats in Bog Wood, or even in Hoppy Woods. The nearest ones are on Cannock Chase, which is quite 10 miles away, and the sight of a big, black, strapping chap like Tom caused quite a stir amongst the local ladies. He caused quite a bit of jealousy too, Alice, perhaps rightly, thought she had some claim on Tom as she had, as it were, produced him, and Tracy thought she had a claim because he was male and she was female, and that's all it takes with a weasel. Soon they were in the middle of the yard, slapping at each other and pulling each others fur.
"Don't fight girls. There's plenty to go round!" sang Tom happily.

*****************

The night of the competition came. A BBC celebrity had been hired by Wayne to compere the show and the wood was alive with overexcited moles and over made up bats. Tom, with his fur gleaming was happily holding court to a crowd of weasels and ferrets. Alice and Tracy's feud was still simmering; both had black eyes and were sitting, glowering with rage and shoving their elbows into each other's ribs.

The celebrity minced into the spotlight face glowing orange with Mantan, and announced:
"Ladies and gentlemen, first tonight we have the Moles, - I've got a mole meself and I daren't tell you where it is, but private showings can be arranged - "
"Get on with it you big fairy!" yelled Wayne.
"Ohhh isn't he masterful!" simpered the compere, "ladies and gentlemen - the Moles singing - he peered at his script... 'The Hills are Alive' - oh I love that Julie Andrews me, she looked almost like a bloke with 'er 'air cut short."
"They've pinched my song!" said Ted.
"And ours!" screeched the bats.
"And ours!" cawed the crows.
"And mine!" complained Tracy.
"Well yer can't all sing 'The Hills are Alive', can yer?" said the compere. "Sort it out between yerselves I'm off for a quick one." And he flounced off as fast as his skin tight jeans would allow.
So they did sort it out. Soon the woods were full of fighting, biting, scratching animals. Peace was restored, rather strangely, by Malcolm, who trotted into the spotlight and did a merry little hornpipe. Then he sang some sea shanties with rude words, and everyone stopped fighting and joined in. Then Tom leapt onto the woodpile and began to sing 'What's new pussycat?' in his strong Welsh voice. Soon the wood was full of happy singing animals and a grand time was had by all, even Ted, who it must be said, had been sulking rather.

*********************

They all went home to bed very late, (Tom was lodging in the coalhouse with Malcolm) and very happy, and for a few days all went well. Tom entertained a seemingly endless audience of female ferrets, stoats and weasels, and Malcolm went fishing in the lake. Then things seemed to change a bit - Tom's coat lost its sheen, his voice wasn't quite as strong and he almost lost interest in the ladies.

One night they heard a wailing sound coming from the coalhouse, everyone sat up in bed startled, it was Tom singing, sadly, but very loudly.

"I'mmm a lonesome pooolecat...
Ain't got no feminine polecats... " he yowled, "fer to tell my troubles tooooo..."

They went downstairs and made Tom and Malcolm a dish of hot milk.
"I hate to give you folks trouble," sighed Tom, "but I sure am lonely."
It wasn't just the lack of polecats, Tom hated the smell of humans, the tractors terrified him, the air smelt of diesel, it never got properly dark at night and - worst of all - Tracy was moving in. A little pile of her belongings had migrated, hopefully, to the coalhouse.

Malcolm wasn't happy either. He missed the salt water fish, the fresh air and his mad old ladies with who he lived on the beach in Wales. They both wanted to go home which was over 200 miles away.

"Dump them on Cannock Chase or sell them to a zoo," said Jim. "No way am I driving over 400 miles in January. Forget it!"

They set off very early next morning, before Tracy woke up.
Owing to Malcolm's aversion to motorways, they drove over the border and across the Brecon Beacons and down the long, long road to Milford Haven which is about as far west as you can go. On the hills above the estuary there is a wild, wild wood; the westerlies from the Atlantic are so strong that the trees lean over at right angles, almost to the ground and it is so dark in this wood that you cannot see inside.
They stopped the Land Rover and wound the windows down, a fresh blast of air filled the inside, and Tom sat up and sniffed appreciatively.
"Oh boy, oh boy," he said happily, "lady polecats!"
He jump out of the Land Rover and said, "Thanks for the lift folks, I'd like to say it's been a pleasure but it ain't."
And in one second he had completely and utterly vanished, and all they could hear was the west wind and a faint, but happy voice shouting, "brace yourselves ladies, Thomas is back!"

Then they drove to the beach, which looked huge and flat and white and cold. They stood and looked down sadly, remembering a happy family holiday years before.
"Ta, ta," said Malcolm. "You want to get her seen to," he added nodding towards Mother, who was sniffing again. And he scuttled off across the huge breach until he was just a tiny dot of a mink, heading for a cave over a mile away from which a plume of blue smoke was rising.

Ted was quite glad to see them go. Alice didn't even seem to notice, in fact Alice hadn't been noticing much lately, she'd been sleeping a lot and she lay now, flat on her back with her little pink pads in the air. Her tummy seemed plump in fact it was very, very plump.
"Thank goodness for that," said Jim, climbing into the Land Rover, "no more singling polecats."
"What's that noise?" said Ted.
"It's someone singing."
"I think it's coming from Alice's tummy," said Ted, peering down rather doubtfully. They all looked.
Alice's tummy was - well it was bouncing - and from inside came a shrill little voice, this tiny voice was muffled, but it was singing, in perfect tune...
"Wha's noo puddytat..."
"Wooooooohhhhwooooo..." added another tiny voice.
"Yoo wif yore puddytat noseā€¦" continued the tummy happily.
"Wooooooohhhhwooooo..."
Alice slept blissfully on.
"Oh how absolutely spiffing," said Jim. "Every year I tell you to take that bloody ferret to the vets..."
"She always beats me to it..."
Now we're going to end up with a mustelid Von Trap family..."
"I like babies."
"Shut up, Ted!"
So they drove home, leaving behind the cold wet beach, the dark, dark wood, and an awful lot of happy lady polecats.

First Published February 2005

Stories by Norma Williams
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