Tick tactics used with the morning coffee
Published at 09:10, Monday, 07 May 2012
I WAS peering round the kitchen the other morning in my usual myopic manner when I spotted two grapes on the floor.
I was on my usual mission to make Mrs Hextol her morning cup of coffee, and her request was so urgent that I didn’t even have time to find my glasses.
The dog was sighing mournfully; she knows if I come downstairs bare-chested, I have only come to brew up, while if I appear fully clad, she knows she’s going out, and that gives her the excuse to caper joyously around the kitchen before dashing hopefully to the back door.
While I was waiting for the kettle to boil, I congratulated myself on not standing on the two black grapes, which I picked up and put on the draining board.
I contemplated eating them – as I had the rest of the bunch, it must be said – but then one of them moved.
It was just a small wriggle, but enough for me to issue a small scream.
I lived the living grape to within an inch of my nose – the only way I can see without my specs – and saw that there were multiple legs waving at me from the top of the grape.
The other one was similarly furnished with limbs to burn and even my sleep-befuddled brain comprehended these were perhaps not grapes after all.
I picked up the potato knife, and gave one an experimental prod on its leathery skin, and took a step back as a jet of viscous black blood gushed out. onto the old Courant I had thoughtfully laid out on the draining board.
My experiment was disturbed by a querulous cry from on high, with Mrs Hextol calling: “ Where’s my coffee?”
I hastily abandoned my own version of Silent Witness to prepare her Mellow Birds – having thoroughly washed and scalded my hands, of course – and took the stairs two at a time to impart the news.
“Ooh, you haven’t made my coffee in your underpants, have you?” she inquired with a shudder, while I replied sweetly: “No, I used the kettle.”
I then told her of the wriggling grapes, and she nodded sagely: “They’ll be ticks off the dog. No matter how much I comb her, and look over her, there’s always one or two that get away.”
I found it hard to believe that any of the loathsome parasites could have escaped Mrs Hextol’s gimlet eye and questing fingers.
When I was a spotty teenager, she was forever examining every exposed inch of my flesh in a quest for blackheads to be removed, either manually, or with the aid of a hairgrip.
She said she had removed two ticks from the dog’s head earlier in the week – one from below her eye, and the other from her lip.
She fretted: “It’s her long hair; you can see the ones on her head, but not the ones that burrow down into her fur.
“That must be where these two came from.
“You are going to have to stop taking her into the long grass.”
There is nothing I would like better than to stop taking her into the long grass for her exercise.
However, she takes her role as a German Shepherd very seriously indeed, and feels morally obliged to go berserk at any other living creature that comes within 50 yards of her.
I therefore have to take her to lonely fields and moors where she can roam to her heart’s content, with only me, her sticks and 10,000 ticks for company.
We returned red faced and sodden from one moorland romp that day, and Mrs Hextol instructed me to check the dog for unwelcome non-paying guests.
I gave her the once over – and my fingers managed to detect a mysterious lump on her chest, quietly pulsating away.
I was about to call Mrs Hextol, but decided this was something I could handle myself.
I knew Mrs Hextol’s technique was to grip firmly twixt thumb and forefinger and pull sharply.
That’s what I did, only for the dog to yelp piteously , and Mrs Hextol to come charging through to see what was going on.
“It must have a really good hold,” I said, trying to get a new grip for extra purchase.
Mrs Hextol gritted: “It will have, you silly man; you’ve been trying to pull one of the poor dog’s nipples off!”
Published by http://www.hexhamcourant.co.uk