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The collected opinions of an august and aristocratic personage who, despite her body having succumbed to the ravages of time, yet retains the keen intellect, mordant wit and utter want of tact for which she was so universally lauded in her younger days. Being of a generation unequal to the mysterious demands of the computing device, Lady Bracknell relies on the good offices of her Editor for assistance with the technological aspects of her journal.

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Location: Bracknell Towers

Sunday, January 27, 2008

A right can of worms

I am just back from Home & Bargain.

I don't know how widespread the Home & Bargain chain of shops is - and they seem not to have a web presence, so I can find no help from that quarter - but, for those who have never heard the name, Home & Bargain are wonderful Aladdin's caves of shops in which one can very often find things at a fraction of the price they would be in the supermarket next door.

I'm sure that Booglaoo Dude, being a great frequenter of various branches of Home & Bargain, will confirm that it is almost always worth popping in on the off-chance. (He also speaks highly of something called, "B&M Bargains": but I have no personal experience of that particular establishment.)

So. I was in the pet supplies area. Sometimes they will have a brief appearance by a superior brand of cat food at an extremely reduced price. (My arms will attest to this, having been stretched almost down to my ankles by the 5 kg of something posh I dragged home on Thursday. This was probably foolish, but experience has taught me that it is imperative to buy such things when you see them. That shelf will almost certainly be bare by the next day.)

The pet supplies area includes things like fat balls and tubes of peanuts trapped behind wire mesh which Bertie would gladly purchase to fatten the local wild bird population up if only I would relent and give him some pocket money.

But today there was Something New.

For an unknown amount of money - sorry, but I was limping past in horror too quickly to notice the price - one can buy a ring-pull can of dried earthworms.

Now, leaving aside -which is by no means easy, I can assure you - my life-long phobia of earthworms, why would anybody want to feed the birds in their garden a dried version of something the birds can pull up out of the ground in that self-same garden for free??

Vermivorous* birds have been cunningly-designed to be absolutely toptastic at dragging protesting worms free from their soil-y habitat. What possible benefit will the average blackbird derive from mankind generously farming the worms on his behalf; killing and drying them; and pouring their wizened, dehydrated remains into a ring-pull can? A can, moreover, which Beaky himself can not open. No matter how early he gets up of a morning.

I am all for feeding the birds. Or, rather, I am all for feeding the birds in scenarios where so doing doesn't lure them within easy reach of Bertie's gaping maw. But - assuming, for the purposes of discussion, the absence of Bertie - I will feed them things which they can't get for themselves. It seems likely to me that one of the reasons garden birds fall so voraciously on bread crumbs is that, try as they might, they simply don't have the equipment to knead bread dough themselves. Bread thus becomes an exotic and delicious foodstuff by virtue of its very unattainability. (Plus, of course, it is entirely possible that bread actually tastes a lot nicer than worms do. Trust me: I am never going to put this theory to the test.)

Offering the birdies a sprinkling of dried worms seems to me to be something akin to offering currants to someone who works in a vineyard. Not only is the offer wholly unnecessary in the first place, given the superabundance of the real thing, but the "treat" offered is decidedly less enticing than its fresh equivalent.

Or is it that earthworms are actually seasonal, and no-one has ever told me?

The Editor

*Ok, I just made that word up.


Blogger Mary said...

I know of cans of earthworms in the context of fishing-bait, maybe they just got a bit confused about where the cans should be displayed?

4:51 pm  
Anonymous Boogaloo Dude said...

Dear Editor

Home Bargains (sic) is an old Liverpool firm founded not that far from Bracknell Towers, in Old Swan. It now has multifarious outlets all over the country - well, all over the middle bit and parts of Wales.

For more fascinating details one can visit although this is not a retail outlet.

As for the worms, perhaps it would help to think of this product as a kind of avian TV dinner - handy but it'll never take the place of real food.


1:07 am  
Blogger Mary said...

I checked with someone who'd know, and he said that the cans of dried worms are something you might give to larger fish (when you have more of an 'aquarium' than a tank), some reptiles, and certain caged birds.

I would like to thank the Editor for providing an interesting dinner-conversation-topic.

10:14 am  
Anonymous Boogaloo Dude said...

Oops. That's not how I formatted my contribution, nor how it looked on the preview. Somehow, Blogger has missed out the two words "the website" with which I named the link and then made the entire remaining 37 words into the link.

I only mention this lest your readers gain an opinion of me which is even lower than that which I deserve...

I shall now go down the garden to eat worms, if I can find any. There's never a handy snack-pack of dried worms round when you really need one!

10:53 am  
Blogger Lady Bracknell said...

Oh, that's what they're for...

Mind you, given that there is No Way I could even look at the open can, let alone touch the dried worms, that's another few types of domestic pet I won't be investing in any time soon.

(Quite liked the idea of keeping snakes at one point, until I cottoned on to the fact that this would involve keeping baby mouses in the freezer.)

2:27 pm  
Anonymous Boogaloo Dude said...

Surely you encounter enough reptiles in the day job to satisfy any hankering to keep snakes!

How about some of the more ornamental examples of the genus Rattus? Clean, intelligent, affectionate, not fazed by cats and eat nice sensible dry vegitarian food. I can highly recommend them - unless, like the present Mrs Dude, it turns out that you are allergic.

5:10 pm  
Blogger Lady Bracknell said...

Are they not prone to incontinence whilst being handled, though?

I had enough of wee when I had a guinea pig many moons ago.

(His name was Boris. His brother's name was Brutus.)

7:03 pm  
Blogger Dame Honoria Glossop said...

Perhaps the dried earthworms had been delivered to the Home & Bargain emporium in error.

One normally purchases dried earthworms, and other potions ingredients, from The Apothecary in Diagon Alley.

8:04 pm  
Anonymous Boogaloo Dude said...

I can state for the record, without fear of contradiction, that neither myself nor any member of clan Dude ever experienced the micturations of Sunny, Ally or Magrat whilst handling them.

They also didn't attempt to bite our necks or gouge out our eyes.

And they certainly didn’t fight the dogs or kill the cats,
or bite the babies in the cradles;
Or eat the cheeses out of the vats,
and lick the soup from the cooks' own ladles.
Nor did they split open the kegs of salted sprats,
make nests inside men's Sunday hats,
or ever spoil the women's chats,
by drowning their speaking with shrieking and squeaking in fifty different sharps and flats!

They were, in every respect, clean and lovely - which puts them streets ahead of some humans I have known.

12:54 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's sort of funny to me that we serve worm flakes to fish but then serve fish flakes to each other in or on Asian cuisine. Somewhere there is a slavering alien beast who likes just a shake of human flakes on his morning meal, thank you, just enough to season it but not overpower.

5:56 pm  
Blogger Lady Bracknell said...

Scared now :-(

6:06 pm  
Blogger Mary said...

Going in the other direction, could we feed the worms on cornflakes?

9:42 pm  
Blogger Lady Bracknell said...

You know, I begin to feel that this particular blog entry is rather getting away from me...

I may have created a monster.

10:08 pm  
Anonymous SphinxQueen said...

Perhaps, as we are due a cold snap - allegedly - you could rehydrate the worms in some warm water and leave them out for the birds when the ground is too frozen for them to get to the live worms by their own efforts?

Or is that just too oogy?

12:01 am  

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