The Black Squirrels Of Letchworth
This is one of my own compositions. I play it before Pay The Reckoning. I used to work in a warehouse for a supermarket chain when I was living in England. During our breaks, or indeed when we were supposed to be working, the workers used to come upstairs from the warehouse floor and sit in the canteen for as long as we could get away with. We’d always come up with some weird conversation. One old Welsh guy used to sit there and do crosswords and smoke cigars, and sometimes he’d add something insightful to the conversation, but it was usually a lie about some statistic or other, told totally deadpan, without even a flicker of a muscle on his face to give away the fact that he was winding us up. One day we were talking about where we lived and it turned out he lived in Letchworth. He told me that Letchworth was famous for its black squirrels, since it is the only place in the whole of the UK where they exist. I said I didn’t believe him and called him a patter merchant, and he said "no honestly, I know I usually wind you up, but this is the truth", and so it went on until he said "right then I bet you a tenner there are black squirrels in Letchworth", and I thought, could they really exist in only one town in England, no that’s impossible! So I bet him 10 quid he was telling patter. Got home and went straight online to check. Sure enough, there are black squirrels in Letchworth. Apparently they are a mutant form of the grey squirrel which was imported from North America. The gene for black fur is a recessive one, which is why they have only managed to breed in significant numbers in this one town. I’m told they’re fairly common in America though. The only other difference to the grey squirrel is that the tail of the black is slightly more raggy-looking than that of its fluffier cousin. I had to pay up my 10 quid the next day!
Some info on Hertfordshire wildlife, including the black squirrel, and my mum’s favourite, the "Hertfordshire Horror": http://www.hertsheritage.org.uk/naturalhistory/urban.html.
They aren’t quite as muscular either, the greys are better for the barbie, more meat on them…
There are white ones, too
How ‘bout a tune for them, Dow?
Hmmmm ~ never tasted one of those. I think the pink eyes and transluscent skin would put me off…
RTÉ Radio item on Letchworth Black Squirrels
Sinéad here from RTÉ Radio 1 in Dublin … we’re doing an item on the black squirrels of Letchworth on our wildlife show Mooney Goes Wild tomorrow (Sat. July 29th 2005, 10am-11am) & have literally just come across this site … hope we’re in time… interested in having a quick phone chat with you about your composition … can you mail me at email@example.com?
Hi Sinéad, I just sent you an e-mail!