Yesterday I found a small snail on the wall. “Nothing unusual about that” you might say – but the thing is, it was on an inside wall. Going up by the stairs, if you please. I assume it came indoors when the window was open but how it got that far without being spotted surprises me – I’m wondering if, like wheelchair-bound Andy in ‘Little Britain’, it waited ’til nobody was looking and then sprinted across the threshold, before returning to a more sedate and gastropod-ish crawl the second it was aware of watchful human eyes.
Anyway I cheerfully picked it up and relocated it to the garden where it can crawl or sprint or even fly for that matter. Who knows what they get up to when you’re not looking? I have a great fondness for snails, and slugs, and other slimey, creepy-crawly, multi-legged - or no-legged - things. Last week I found a large yellow slug – bright yellow, it was, like it had eaten something radioactive. I doubt there are any discarded bits of plutonium buried amongst the petunias so, on consulting my favourite trusty wildlife book, I reckon it was a Great Black Slug. Bit of a misnomer there but the Great Black Slug can come in many colours – even a high-visibility-jacket shade of yellow. I’d have thought a more imaginative name could have been awarded to such a creature but in this case the folks at the Institute Of Entomological Nomenclature* must have been having an off-day. Perhaps they’d exhausted themselves after an afternoon of coming up with more elaborate names for moths: Ghost Swift, Mother Shipton, Rosy Footman, Scarlet Tiger, Sallow Kitten and many more that conjure up images of all things other than moths. (I’m sure I once heard Sallow Kitten on John Peel...)
Well I don’t know what that little snail was. It was possibly a White-Lipped Banded Snail (which apparently can also be dark-lipped and devoid of bands). As the Gnat said to Alice in Wonderland, “What’s the use of their having names if they won’t answer them?” “No use to them,” said Alice, “but it’s useful to the people who name them, I suppose”. Hmm. I think I’ll just call my snail Brian.
* they name slugs and snails there too, apparently