“I’m such a clever toad”

Well, in yesterday’s post I found myself quoting HM The Queen who once said, it is said, that she should like to be a horse. Most of us would have said would, but presumably should is the proper word, since Her Majesty employed it. She was quite young at the time. I mean, you can’t imagine her standing up in the middle of a banquet in honour of foreign dignitaries, clattering on her glass with a knife and, as silence swiftly fell, announcing:

We should like to be a horse!

Though no doubt everyone would nod and smile approvingly.

Today, by coincidence, I came across this high school writing prompt:

The animal you would like to be.

That would have to be a cat, I suppose, since I live in a house bursting at the seams with them. Over the years they seem to have become more human and I more cat-like. Presumably eventually we will meet in the middle as a hybrid species: hats. I would of course prefer to be a well-fed, extremely spoilt domestic moggie than one of the multitude of thin, sad strays, out in all weathers, fending for themselves on city streets.

Then I started to wonder what animal other people would associate me with, and a little cluster of unpleasant memories floated to the surface. In the main, of course, people are too polite to point out that you remind them of a slug or a gorilla, but I was once acquainted with a very rude old man called Norman who frequented the village pub and village “do’s” in general. Norman was a menace. His first – bellowed – question on catching sight of you would always be: Ow’s yer sex life, then? This was an unfamiliar social ritual to me – I couldn’t answer, and was fairly sure one was not supposed to answer, but yet an answer seemed to be required

Norman was a prime source of animal insults. He once informed me that I reminded him of a thoroughbred racehorse. This wasn’t too bad because he might have meant sleek, glossy, highly-strung, intelligent, classy…

But next time I met him it was at a dance in the next village. There we all were, for some long-forgotten reason, circling between walls plastered with posters for mother-and-baby sessions, boy scouts and so forth, when he asked me to dance. I didn’t want to dance with Norman, guessing (correctly) that he would be the sort to whisk me vigorously round corners and tread on my toes, but it seemed rude to refuse. We circled, and he peered beerily over my left shoulder and remarked to one of his ancient mates who happened to be close by:

It’s like dancing with a bloody great giraffe.

If I had to choose an animal totem – apart from cats – I think I would – or should – let’s just say might – plump for Toad from Wind in the Willows. I do kind of like zooming about the countryside in my motor car and certain – rigidly suppressed – aspects of my personality – impulsiveness, impracticality, illogicallity, a tendency to show off and over-dramatise – do rather remind me of the brownish/greenish occupant – apart from when the weasles invaded – of Toad Hall.



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