I love toads. We have one living in our cellar, called Crappy by my granddaughter(the French for toad is “crapaud”). He is a lonely old thing who I occasionally feed with worms and who may be 30 years old-certainly there was a toad in the cellar when the property was a working farm. So I was delighted last week when another large toad appeared in our courtyard. I proudly showed him off to the guests, who showed the typical reaction of trepidation and alarm, but after some gentle stroking (of the toad that is), they gradually joined my admiration for the little animals.
“Dad, wake up” …..I was deep in a lovely slumber, fuelled by our home made liqueur and a huge barbeque that evening. Daughter Clare now in her early forties, had been staying and the long forgotten parental years seemed to return like an unwanted nightmare.”Dad, can you come and see my friend, she can’t swallow anything” I have not done any night calls for several years now, but collected my old medical bag to attend the patient in our larger gite. I had no time for my contact lenses, but the visit was soon completed and I made my way back to our house, over the courtyard, in deep darkness. Half way across, calamity struck. I stood on the toad and felt the soft flesh deflate beneath my clumsy left foot. Bugger bugger. Poor little thing, murdered for no good reason. Perhaps he would recover overnight, and I would check in the morning. Sleep after senseless murder is difficult, but it eventually arrived, although I awoke nervous and early the next morning. Our upstairs bedroom windows were wide open, and I peered anxiously outside. The dark shape was still there, a pitiful lump of lifeless flesh on the gravel. The contact lenses were still not in, so I picked up the nearby binoculars and peered out, aware that my nakedness would be an unwelcome start to the day if any of our guests were about. No signs of life in the little animal, he was surely dead. Dressing to retrieve a cold and lifeless corpse is a sad affair, but it had to be done. I grabbed an old trowel to put under the body and make some sort of burial tribute, then approached it slowly and grim faced. Life plays tricks sometimes, and sometimes they are good tricks. My toad was in fact the bountiful excretion of our dog Boudies’ bottom!! Never before has a pile of poo made me feel so good!