Musings are thoughts, the thoughtful kind. For the purpose of these articles, a-musings are thoughts that might amuse, entertain and even enlighten.
I’ve always loved animals but when I was young the way I kept them was, I now believe, not really the right thing to do. I was never consciously cruel but living in a big town, it was not easy sometimes.
We had a concrete air-raid shelter in our back yard, big enough for the three families that shared the yard. Fortunately we never used it, not because it was never needed but because we didn’t move into the yard until after the war.
The air-raid shelter became my den. Some of my friends and I formed a ‘Chemistry Club’ where we conducted all sorts of experiments that never actually managed to kill any of us even though, with hindsight, I realize we did not have the faintest idea of what we were doing. I suppose, given the amount of chemicals we purchased, we would have been arrested as potential terrorists today.
I also bred rats in the air-raid shelter and sold them to the local pet shop. I suppose they were really only big mice. I bred them by colour: I had chocolate brown ones, silver-grey ones, piebald ones, you name it. I spent hours building homes for them with an upstairs and downstairs, exercise wheels, swings and slides. I let them run loose around my feet and they were so tame I could pick them up and cuddle them whenever I wanted. They were also prolific breeders so I was able to maintain a reliable supply of pets to the store.
In addition I had rabbits that lived in pens in the yard. I never succeeded in breeding them but they seemed to live a happy life. I fed them Quaker Oats and tea leaves most days. Don’t ask me where I got the idea of saving used leaves from the pot but they loved the mixture. I suppose it was one of my mother’s ideas. She was full of original ideas, my mother was. We also had a goldfish – no home was complete without a goldfish swimming around alone in his water-filled globe.
Then, of course, there was Rufty, or mongrel Rufty. In those days I had scarcely any idea about pedigree dogs, not that I have today either. I love dogs that are what we called the Heinz Dogs because they comprised 57 varieties. In Saint Lucia I call them Banana Hounds, and I love them.
I am not sure where Rufty came from but he was my pride and joy. He came everywhere with me, so much so that I had to lock him indoors when I left for school or he would have followed me and probably sat in class next to me causing endless confusion and uproar.
Rufty was loveable but naughty. He even survived the time he stole the weekly joint of meat off the top of the stove. My mother had removed the precious meal from the oven and placed it on the top to cool when Rufty jumped up, grabbed the whole bone and hid under the table to enjoy it. There was nothing for the rest of the family, all five of us, to do than look on in envy as Rufty devoured our weekly treat. But we still had the mashed potatoes, Yorkshire puddings and gravy so it wasn’t that bad; we survived, as we always did.