My family and other animals

When I was at senior school, back in the dim mists of time as far as my teenaged daughter is concerned, we were given Gerald Durrell’s book My Family & Other Animals to read.

I remember quite clearly being offended by the title on behalf of his family. Personally, I thought that it was grossly unkind – if not downright rude – to not only group his family in with the animals they all had but to call them animals in the first place.

I mean, I know that technically we are animals but there’s a vast difference between knowing that and calling someone an animal. That was really not very nice.

Fast forward forty years or so and I’m totally on board with the title of the book. I’ve got four kids and a husband. The title of the book is completely accurate.

Bath time fun

Take the time I heard my youngest boy screaming when the two boys, then aged 2 and 3, were in the bath together. I found a perfect set of bloody teeth marks on Ryan’s back. You could see each individual tooth mark, every single little ridge and groove in every tooth. You could even see the gap where two teeth – the front ones – were missing. When questioned, his older brother assured me that Ryan “fell”. It was the tap that did it.

Then there was the memorable occasion, not long after this one, where I went to get towels for the boys who were again in the bath and came back, not twenty seconds later (how do children move so fast?) to find that the youngest boy had pooed in the bath so the older one picked it up, put it on the side of the bath and proceeded to decorate every single thing within reach (including his brother) with said poo, stamping his toys first into the poo, and then over whatever surface attracted his artistic attention. I know you’re not supposed to leave children alone when they’re in the bath but I thought that was something to do with the possibility that they might drown, not that they might decorate the room with faeces while you’re not looking.

Like I said, I can totally relate to Gerald Durrell’s book title.

Interesting animals

As a family, we seem to attract… interesting characters. Take Chicken, the young cat lady in the photo for example (full name: Chicken Chippee Nuggets McBites. Keeley was going through an all things chicken phase when we got the cat). Three days she spent trapped in the first floor, caught between the ceiling and the floor, unable to get out. She kept us awake at night, mewling and scratching, and we tried going into different places in and around the house to try to figure out how on earth she’d got in there. It was early summer and quite warm, so I began to get seriously worried about her dehydrating, never mind starving. Finally, I persuaded John to take out one of the light fittings in the kitchen and Chicken finally poked her head through.

I absolutely adore her, but she’s not the world’s cleverest cat.

We couldn’t tempt her through that hole, so, thinking that the light fitting hole was too small, I bullied John into cutting a bigger hole in the ceiling. We were going away in a couple of days and I need to get the bloody cat out so I could take her to the kennels, otherwise she really was going to starve to death.

Actually, no she wasn’t likely to starve to death because one of her favourite things to catch and eat is Huntsman spiders. I don’t want to go there. But at least I knew she wasn’t going to go hungry. She was, however, going to go thirsty.


Once John cut the hole in the ceiling, after a bit of trial and error with a step ladder and trying to drag the #stupidcat out through the whole and her refusing to go, we turned one of the lounges on its side, put it under the hole and put some water and food on top of it, hoping to tempt her out.

An hour later, as we were all squeezed up on the single available lounge, we heard a scratching at the door. There was Chicken! She’d finally got out! We were so pleased to see her! She was filthy and happy and proud to be back.

She had a big drink and lots to eat then went back outside.

Five minutes later, we hear “meow” coming from the hole in the ceiling.


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