Saturday, 14 July 2012

An Unusual Pet and a Few Memories

At around this time, I acquired an unusual pet.  It was, (so I was told) especially bought for me, but I still think that my Dad was the one who really wanted it!  Where would I have got the idea that I would like a python???  We were very good friends with the keeper of the reptile section at Bristol Zoo and on numerous visits, we had been inside the cages with him and allowed to handle some of the snakes.  On one occasion, brother David stepped over a fairly low boarded barrier to look at something which had taken his attention.   The keeper quietly remarked that it might be a good idea if he looked down to see what was near his foot, and perhaps he should take a pace back.  Inside the barrier were a number of recently arrived crocodiles, admittedly only around a couple of feet long, but still very capable of doing a lot of damage!!
My python was imported from India and approximately twelve feet in length; they can grow much larger than this, and I believe the record for such snakes is about 30 feet in length. Most regrettably, they have now become an endangered species -  see here. I was told that the most important thing always to remember was never to let Oscar (his new name) get his tail anchored, as this was where the main strength came from.   The python is a constrictor, which means it kills its prey by squeezing,  mammals being their preferred prey.   We had a large glass heated cage built for him and he was mostly kept at Dad's garage, as the cage was obviously quite large! 


I apologise for the quality of the photos; we did have the originals,  but at some time during our various national and international moves, they have either gone missing or they are still undiscovered in a so-far unopened box.  These are scanned copies of the photos that were in the Bath & Wilts Chronicle, the local newspaper.  They are very old and quite creased and discoloured but....

On one occasion, when we had taken him with us to our house in the Cotswolds, he had been put into a large basket with a grille over the top and left in front of the fire for warmth at night.  During the night, my Mum woke Dad up and said that she had a strange feeling that Oscar had got out of the basket!   Dad was saying it was impossible,  rolled over and immediately went straight back to sleep.   On waking in the morning, they discovered that there was a neatly coiled  snake down by their feet enjoying the warmth of their bed!  Presumably my Mum in her sleep, had felt Oscar come into the bed, but by the time she had fully awoken, he had settled down and all she was left with was the feeling that he was on the loose!  He must have left his basket, climbed the stairs and then realised that there was a nice warm bed waiting for him!  From this day on, he was always kept in the cage at night!
Above is a shot of my brother David filling the car's tank up with petrol at my father's garage. The caption above says I bullied my father to buy the snake, but this is mere journalese, fudging the facts to try to make a more interesting story - nothing changes!!  The car driver was not really that frightened, but he put on a good act for the newspaper photo and report. LOL!!


**********************
My parents almost always used to take David and me with them, when they went out for a meal.  We were both brought up with the rule that we could order what we liked, but once the food was in front of us, we had to eat every morsel on the plate!  This generally worked well, and neither of us ever ordered anything that we did not recognise, without taking advice from Mum and Dad.  One slip-up occurred with David, when we went to an Indian restaurant and he ordered a very hot curry.  Mum suggested that he should maybe have a medium curry, but David insisted that he liked food very hot.  Once the curry arrived, poor David struggled his way through the plateful with a red face and sweat streaming down. He did not say one word, but the relief on his face was obvious when the last mouthful disappeared.  We had both learnt the lesson that  it was  better to listen to advice where selection of restaurant food was concerned!
One other never-to-be-forgotten outing was when my folks took David and I to an evening dinner-dance at the Savoy Hotel in London. Very posh! My Dad was a wonderful ballroom dancer and I started dancing with him at quite a young age, by standing on his feet! As I got a bit heavier, he shortened his steps for me, so I could follow him with feet on the floor; as I grew, so the steps got longer and  more professional.  For many years, I could not dance easily with anyone other than my father, and my Mum always had the same problem.   On this particular occasion at the Savoy, Dickie Valentine was singing and seeing my parents with two small children, he came over and asked what we would like him to sing. At the time, the 1951 hit ‘I Taut I Taw a Puddy Tat’ was my favourite song and with no hesitation, Dickie Valentine announced that he was singing a special number for me and duly sang my favourite song.  He also sang a song for David, but I cannot recall now the title!

22 comments:

  1. When I saw the subject matter of the post I could not continue. I am afraid - to the point of a bad phobia - of snakes, even reading about them will make me shake so I had to skip it.

    However, I did scroll up when I saw the snake had disappeared for the second part of the post, and enjoyed your dining and dancing memories. My favourite song as a little girl was How Much is that Doggy in the Window!

    ReplyDelete
  2. So nice to discover your other blog!

    Ciao
    Alessandra

    ReplyDelete
  3. Dolly sorry about the phobia, I am a bit like that with spiders but....

    Oh I also loved How much is that Doggy in the Window, it came out just a little later than the puddy cat :) Keep well Diane xx

    ReplyDelete
  4. Alessandra I am also glad that you have found my other blog. Hope you enjoy. Diane

    ReplyDelete
  5. Golly a python as a pet in England would have been pretty rare. You were brave as a child to hold it around your neck. Another interesting snippet from your life.

    ReplyDelete
  6. diane b, yes I guess you are right, I have never thought about it but I imagine not many children in England, especially in those days, would have had a python as a pet!

    No not brave, just a bit daft and that has not changed much as the years have gone by :-) Have a good week Diane

    ReplyDelete
  7. What a brave child you were... I don't think I would have wanted a snake for a pet!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Holly molly, that would just kill me lol. I am not fond of any kind of snakes.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Pam not brave, as I said above, just a bit daft :) At least it has left me with now fear of snakes. Keep well Diane

    ReplyDelete
  10. chubskulit the non poisonous snakes are no problem, I have to admit I still like them. I have a lot of respect for them though. Have a good day Diane

    ReplyDelete
  11. Hello there, Diane.
    Thank You for visiting my blog with the borders views and very pleased and honoured You are from Rhodesia.
    If You look at my profile, You can discover that Rhodesia is in my interests since always.
    I would like to make a million questions, but do not worry. Mainly I'll become a keen reader of Your pieces.
    All good wishes.

    P.S. I have no roots in Rhodesia. But my family lived also the forced emigration, because of a land passed from a government to another.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Gio Ve thank you for the visit and the comment. I would be delighted to answer any questions that I can, but I made an escape to S.A before things got too bad. My parents were there a bit longer :( Diane

    ReplyDelete
  13. Before leaving some questions, I wanted to read carefully all Your blog. It is possible I 'll be already finding some answers here.
    In the meantime I have permanently linked Your website from the home page of my blog about borders (Google Page rank #5), so that I can discover at once when You put a new post.
    Best wishes.
    ---
    I was born in Rome. My father was Sicilian, from a family persecuted by the fascist regime in the 1930s; my mother was born in a village of the Julian Alps which was Italian until 1945 and Yugoslavian afterwards. A part of her family had been killed by the Yugoslav red army, but my grandfather was able to escape to Italy.
    My wife is Estonian. She had her grandparents deported to Siberia during the Soviet occupation (1944-1990) and probably they died in a village close to Mongolia.
    We live at Solferino, a village well known in France because of a cruel battle happened in 1859, far 550 km from Rome and 2500 km from Estonia. My wife and I are real citizens of the world, without any prejudice, but "ready" not to feel surprised by anything.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Gio Ve, I have tried to contact you direct but Google will not allow me to do so. Diane

    ReplyDelete
  15. Already answered, privately.
    All good wishes.

    ReplyDelete
  16. What a brave girl you were, Diane! :-) Great post.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Oh my, but then I live in snake-free New Zealand, where it is illegal to import snakes. We don't even have any in our Zoos!

    ReplyDelete
  18. JM as I have said previously not brave just a bit daft! Diane

    ReplyDelete
  19. Michelle I did not realise that you can not even have snakes in your zoos. I guess though it is a good policy as only one has to escape and god forbid that it should be pregnant!!! Have a great weekend Diane

    ReplyDelete
  20. Lindy there is nothing brave about this, just a bit daft and I was used to handling snakes at a young age at Bristol zoo. Ha ha. Diane

    ReplyDelete
  21. Like Dolly I normally have a problem with snakes but I was okay with this post (it's if they are moving about that it freaks me out). I really loved this post and a further glimpse into your childhood. Thank you. x

    ReplyDelete

Verification free blog but all comments will be modified before publication.
Thanks for reading my post and I would love it if you leave me a comment. I will try to answer each and every one.