Ah, snails! If I had a bigger space I’d grow some extra crops especially for them and we’d all live happily ever after in a fecund nirvana where swathes of green were exquisitely enhanced by delicate trails of silver.

As it is, they plunge me into existential angst as I watch the tattered lace of ex-leaves disappear under a slow wave of grey slime. After much internal debate about killing pests (then externalised), I quickly became a dehumanised killing machine.

My only hope of salvation resides in my continuing guilt pangs and occasional decisions to let one go.  (Which, remarkably, after reflecting on its brush with death and considering how best to find meaning in a fleeting existence, doesn’t conclude its short lifetime would best be spent creating a great work of literature, but rather devotes itself to rampant reproduction).

This offers an excuse to post my entry into last year's Emsworth Village Show in the category of Livestock 1: Best Chicken, so that you can all appreciate how usefully I spend my own fleeting existence.

I’ve been told I should just ‘rehome’ them but, short of taking a bucketful six stops on the Piccadilly line, I’m not sure that will do the job. They actually move damn fast, so I think taking snails on the Tube might be more antisocial than getting on having not washed for some time, whilst broadcasting tinny music from earphones turned up extra loud so it can still be heard over one’s yapping into one’s mobile telephonic device, whilst one’s spare hand shoves one fistful of aromatic fast-f0od after another into one’s animated gob thus spraying oily fragments across the carriage.

(No, I don’t travel well.)

But now, for all embattled gardeners, familiar with the suspicion that snails will always find their way back, there is to be a mass science experiment to test the theory!

Swap snails with your neighbours and see if they come back. Wife swapping is so last season.

I’ve just spent a week in beautiful Devon getting my first taste of field biology, so I’m hungry for more and this sounds like great fun. There are teams and everything! Anyone else planning on joining in?

Note:  I’m also genuinely pleased to learn there is a publication called Mollusc World.

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