Hug a squirrel

I heard on the radio that this is National Squirrel Day. And, it seems, also National Hug Day.

Now there are a number of questions that arise from these two seemingly random pieces of information. Firstly, why I am I listening to a radio station that thinks this is the kind of thing I need to know at 8am?

This is a very pertinent question, and the answer has much to do with Iain Duncan Smith making a noise on the Today programme and God knows I can’t bear more than a few seconds of that before turning over to Radio Ridiculously Local and Relentlessly Chirpy. I like to try and forget that we have a Conservative Government if I can possibly help it, but the fact that Iain Duncan Pogging Smith has a position of actual power in the country was hard enough to stomach first time round, but really? Again?

Anyway the presenter of the Breakfast Show of Radio Ridiculously Local and Relentlessly Chirpy FM – “GOOD MORNING MILDLY DEPRESSED MARKET TOWN!!!!!” – thought having these two days simultaneously was a recipe for disaster. “What if you actually got confused and HUGGED a SQUIRREL! Tee hee!” I am pretty sure he said tee hee. In fact if there’s one person who can get away with saying tee hee, it’s Mr Ridiculously Local and Relentlessly Chirpy. Anyway he certainly carried off this line with panache.

But his ‘joke’ does lead onto a second pertinent question – IS it a good idea to celebrate hugs and squirrels on the same day? Surely it compromises our ability to celebrate squirrels fully and appropriately, if all the time we’re thinking, oh gosh maybe I should be hugging someone? It is, to say the least, something of a difficult juggling act.

And so I started thinking about this whole clash of the Squirrel/Hugging celebration, as Mr Ridiculously Local and Relentlessly Chirpy followed up his tee-heeing with a groovy tune.*

Is there some sort of governing body in charge of deciding which aspect of life is celebrated on which particular day, that we could appeal to, in order to avoid this kind of clash in the future? Is there a committee, making sure that there’s a good long time between celebrating Weasel Day and Stoat Day to avoid any potential overlap, and side-stepping the significant potential problems of simultaneously marking National Kissing Day in the middle of Herpes Simplex Awareness Week.

And that’s another thing. Why do some things get whole weeks, and others only days. Now I’m as keen on breastfeeding as the next Weirdy Lentil Weaver – keener, possibly – but come to think of it, is it really appropriate to have breastfeeding WEEK and Book DAY? Maybe to ensure fairness we should pressurise this committee into slicing down time even further to meet the needs of minority interests. Gherkin Hour for example. Ladle Afternoon. Michael Gove Minute.

But the more I think about it, the more I suspect that there isn’t really a governing body in charge of allocating these days, is there? It’s all a big free for all. In which case I hereby designate the next two weeks to be Number6 Fortnight.**

I am quite willing to incorporate Squirrel Day AND Hug Day in this Fortnight actually. Because I am quite terrifically keen on them both. Both literally and symbolically in terms of what they represent.

I wholeheartedly approve of hugs. Hugs are marvellously things. Cuddles too, although we have established I’m shaky on the differences between the two. I would definitely like more of them, but in our inhibited buttoned-up culture the number of people we are allowed to cuddle is really very small. I am prone to waylaying Sparkly Daughter about her daily business for a cuddle; not so much with the GothicDaughter, whose first sentence was – no word of a lie – STOP TOUCHING ME. There’s a girl who values her own personal space.

And I am particularly fond of the squirrel. They are wily little creatures and have very lush tails, to name but two of their many excellent points. But go to any garden centre and you will see a variety of expensive equipment specifically designed to prevent squirrels from eating the food laid out like a big squirrel banquet – but, it turns out, not for the likes of them. We don’t feed squirrels. We only feed birds. Squirrels are basically demonised for being too clever and way too successful and ‘stealing’ food from ‘bird’ tables. We don’t approve of that kind of thing. We like our animals to be vulnerable, needy and preferably pretty much on the verge of extinction due to their inability to function in any meaningful way in the world.

Pandas, for example, who are basically too lazy to mate. If the panda got a grip of things and started raiding bird tables for scraps instead of lolling about expecting bamboo to be served to them lightly braised on golden platters with a tarragon jus – well, we would soon go off them.

And the most ironic thing of all about our squirrel hating, panda-loving preferences is that the most adaptable, wily, bird-table raiding species of all is us – the human. Maybe we’re worried that one day squirrels will start ruling the world.

In fact why not try swapping Iain Duncan Smith for a squirrel for a bit. And Michael Gove for cockroach, the other great survivors of the animal world.

And you know which one of those I’d rather hug.


*Stevie Wonder, I think. Or possibly ELO.


** I did think about a month but you know, I don’t want to seem greedy and self obsessed. Not in public anyway.


About number6

I am not a number, I am a free woman. More or less.
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