Despite the troubles at our beloved Royal Mail I can report that the postal workers of a West Country town have been able to guarantee a special delivery.
I was staying in a beautiful wing of a Georgian house close to the town centre. The house had three bathrooms and three cloakrooms and the plumbing seemed to be in good working order. You can therefore understand my quizzical expression when my hosts provided a plastic bucket in my bedroom to pee in during the night, if required. They found my confusion and dismay highly amusing, and asked me to hold on (or not) for the answer to this riddle until the following morning.
The next day dawned and the bucket had now been filled.
A morning tour of the beautifully maintained garden soon followed, and at the request of my hostess the bucket accompanied me. I watched my footing, desperate to dispose of the bucket’s contents at the earliest convenience. Rounding a laurel hedge, we discovered a complete stranger, in a light blue short sleeve shirt, navy blue shorts and a high visibility safety vest adjusting his flies. It was 8.45 am on the Saturday morning. He looked a bit surprised.
“Oi! What the hell do you think you’re doing in my garden?” are the words I felt we should have shouted. Instead, my friend bid him “Morning! Thank you ever so much”, to which the stranger replied, “No problem. I’ll be back later if that’s ok?” and gave us a knowing wink.
I was dumfounded. The “Fragrant Hardy Oleanders” in the flowerbed now had a new aroma.
My hostess pointed to a border of trampled foxgloves and a hole dug into the soil. On closer examination, I could see that it had been used as a toilet. How far will people go? Just then another man, dressed like the previous visitor but with more bicycle safety gear walked out from a clump of rhododendrons and greeted us with a hearty “Hi there! They’re still at it aren’t they? I think we’ll need re-enforcements! See you later!”. He wandered off towards the driveway at the front of the house, his helmet glistening in the morning sunlight.
I was taken aback. Excuse the pun, but I badgered my hostess, now hysterical with laughter, for an explanation.
Indeed, badgers were part of the explanation as my friends were under siege from these territorial animals. There was a badger set just across the road in the park square and these loveable, large and cumbersome creatures were barging their way through the garden’s borders and flower beds, knocking over everything in sight. Indeed, the animals would make a point of rolling around in the flower beds flattening all the plants as they marked their territory and wrestled with their comrades. They were prone to digging latrines and then laying berry-infused turds dead centre which said “Mine” in badger dialect.
Now I appreciated all the damage they were causing. But what were the postmen doing in their garden? Just then another character made his way over to say ‘hello’. This time it was a neighbour, dropping off a box of courgettes and apples from his allotment, and yes, whilst he was there, he said he would gladly pee on the flowerbeds. Job done, a few words of support followed and off he went.
I was instructed to empty the bucket’s contents into the badgers’ latrine, and felt somewhat relieved as my friend continued to explain the strange events we were witnessing. Having discovered their badger problem, they had contacted the local council pest control unit a few days before and were advised that badgers are a protected species, so there was little they could do. However, the helpful lady from the council suggested that badgers feel threatened by the testosterone in a male human’s urine. By urinating over the areas where the badgers were roaming, and aiming in particular at the latrines, the badgers might be persuaded to move on. Quality, quantity and good marksmanship were vital to achieving success in this local territorial dispute.
A seminal moment had followed. The local Royal Mail sorting office was just round the corner. Many of the postmen passed the house as they were leaving and returning from their rounds. My friends had the bright idea of explaining their predicament and enlisting their help. They paid them a visit.
“You know the front garden you all like to pee in?”, they had announced to the assembled audience, “Well, you can go in our back garden as well… with our permission!” Whilst initially taken aback by the offer, the postmen readily agreed.
Since then, my friends have got used to seeing a regular stream of visitors to their garden, though mutual privacy has been respected. The badger activity has decreased and the plants have been getting watered. In fact, they hope that before long, thanks to the co-operation with Royal Mail, the dispute with the badgers will be resolved.
I hope that soon, Royal Mail will be able to do the same for themselves.