It’s all hands on deck, and panic, at the Maison Davy D. A family emergency has arisen. We will be receiving an octogenarian this weekend. It is not a long-lost aunt, or uncle. It is more serious than that. The precious cargo is a family heirloom in the shape of Myrtle, a tortoise. No one knows her exact age, eighty plus is a good guesstimate, and she has been in our family all that time.
My original piece for this Friday Thoughts post has been ditched. Full anxiety mode has set in whilst I try to find out more about members of the Testudinidae lineage. I am not new to having a tortoise. When I was younger, my dad thought it would be a good idea to buy two giant tortoises. All was well until, Bonnie and Clyde, worked out how to climb the small fence into next door’s garden, and spend their newfound freedom terrorising the neighbours. Our time together was brief.
Extensive internet research on tortoise related matters has revealed, as well as being adept climbers, tortoises can burrow, and they can live well beyond a hundred years of age. (The current record is 188 years.) In the summer months, they need to be exercised at least an hour a day. Although, not the fastest of creatures, some smaller species can move at speeds of five kilometres per hour. Certain species of tortoise are known to be able to travel up to three hundred kilometres in a day. Armed with these facts, I am now in the process of building secure tortoise accommodation and practicing for my new role of professional tortoise butler.
The Tortoise in Literature
This is not all bad news for a writer. Many readers may remember being read Aesop’s Fable, The Tortoise and the Hare, as children. Beatrix Potter, Lewis Carroll and Rudyard Kipling all mused about the tortoise. Roald Dahl gave a tortoise, Alfie, a starring role in his book Esio Trot. D.H. Lawrence even found time to write and dedicate a poem, Tortoise Shout, to one of earth’s oldest inhabitants.
Now I’m dreaming about writing a book, a television series, a Hollywood blockbuster. Mrs. Davy D is looking through the writing den window, armed with a hammer, some planks of wood, and one of her ‘there is work to be done’ looks.
Have a great weekend, and if you have any tortoise related survival tips, I would love to hear them.
Footnote: One Foot in the Grave was a 1990’s British comedy which followed the exploits of pensioner, Victor Meldrew. The opening titles featured film of Galapagos tortoises, accompanied by a tune, sang by Eric Idle of Monty Python fame. Ever since I received news of Myrtle’s arrival, I can’t get the One Foot in the Grave tune out of my head.