The box arrived a couple of weeks ago:
‘FRAGILE - CONTAINS LIVING CREATURES - OPEN IMMEDIATELY’.
I sometimes wonder what couriers make of these packages when they load them onto their vans. I’d be curious, inclined to press an ear against the taped up cardboard in the hope of hearing something – a clue - scratching or yawning or purring perhaps. Checking the corners for a protruding claw or the tip of a scaly tail. Or smells. Seepage, even.
Inside this box was a small bag, filled with something soft. I thought it might wriggle but it didn’t move, and it didn’t make a noise, or smell or seep. I was very excited….
…My Tigers and European Nightcrawlers had arrived!
I didn’t know before I bought them that worms could have such exotic names. It’s not just me, is it, for whom ‘European Nightcrawler’ evokes images of neon cities under black skies, of mysterious women smoking long cigarettes and trains rumbling hypnotically through a dark forest landscape to the soundtrack of Bowie’s ‘ Low’ album?
So I’m now the proud owner of wonderfully titled wild tigers (Tiger Worms, aka Brandlings and Red Wigglers!) and nightcrawlers, all 500grams of them. Did you know worms have five hearts? They are also of course eyeless, toothless (ah, imagine a worm with teeth), hermaphrodites, who breed prolifically, and I’ve become the custodian of a small colony making their home inside a special Wormery bin.
I’m already getting disproportionately fond of them, giving them all names – there’s Mavis, and Fluffy, and Tinkerbell…. No, it’s okay, don’t worry, I’m just sticking to Worm, it’s easier that way… What I didn’t know before researching the whole Wormery thing, though, was that they’re quite sensitive creatures and do require some care and attention – they need time to settle in and adjust to their new surroundings (often trying to escape on their first few nights, I eased them in by leaving a solar light on to start with) and it’s important not to overfeed them, let them get too cold or hot, etc. So you know, I’ve been like a protective parent these last couple of weeks, checking up on them regularly, chopping their food into tiny pieces, making sure they’ve plenty of bedding to snuggle down into, bless ‘em. They seem to be doing well so far.
And then the point of it all – they get to devour all our kitchen scraps, and turn it into top quality compost. So basically, in return for decent food and lodgings, they pay us in shit. Strangely, it sounds like a good deal to me.
David Bowie: Subterraneans