Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Ladybird, ladybird


I found a red ladybird with three perfect black spots on one side of its body, and two on the other.

‘You’re nice,’ I whispered to it, in case anyone heard me talking to a ladybird.

‘Thank you,’ said the ladybird in a tiny little voice I could barely hear.

A talking ladybird, I thought to myself. Now, there’s a thing.

‘Can I ask you a question?’ I said to it.

‘Fire away,’ replied the ladybird and crawled to the tip of my finger so we could converse more easily.

‘Why do you have three spots on one side of your body, and only two on the other?’

‘A good question,’ said the ladybird. I think she might have smiled at me, but it was hard to tell.  ‘Well done for being so observant. We ladybirds don’t live awfully long so we celebrate our birthdays every month rather than every year like you humans. And every month for our birthday we get a new spot.  So, you see, I have just turned five months old.’

Congratulations,’ I said to the ladybird. ‘But what happens when you have no more room for black spots?’

‘Well, to be honest, not many of us make it that far. No, don’t look sad. We are not meant to get too old. But there are a few who do, and they become black ladybirds with red spots.’

‘I have seen them!’ I said, excited in spite of myself. ‘So those are very old ladybirds?’

‘Indeed they are,’ said my friend gravely. ‘They are our elders and we respect them greatly.’

‘And does the same thing happen with their red spots?’ I asked. ‘Do they start off with just one, then get another for every month until…until they have no more black left?’

The ladybird looked at me. I think she had a perplexed expression on her face, but it was hard to tell.

We both fell silent for a while. Then she waved one of her front legs in farewell, and flew off.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Arthur, the deluded lizard

I am a lizard and my name is Arthur. In fact, I am very rare; the only known example of a Chromomorphic Lizard. That means I can change colour according to my surroundings. I am extremely clever.

I live in a pet shop that specialises in lizards. They come and they go, but I have been here the longest. On the label in front of my cage it says ‘Common Lizard’, but that is clearly a mistake because I am in no way common and they’ve missed off the bit about being able to change colour. None of the other lizards in the shop can do this, not even a tiny bit.

‘Look, look!’ I tell them on a bright day when the sun is shining. Carefully positioning myself with the window behind me, I squeeze my eyes shut and concentrate very hard. Then I turn blue - almost exactly the same colour as the sky.

‘Yeah, what?’ yawns the rather ill-educated skink from Cage Three.

‘I am blue! As blue as the sky!’

There is a giggling sound and the gecko from Cage Two says, ‘Oh yes, so you are, Arthur. As blue as the sky.’ Then there is more giggling, as if they are trying to disguise their shrieks of delight.

The rude skink says something that sounds like ‘Yeah, you a regular Cam – ee – leon’, but I have never heard of such a thing and anyway, that is not my name. I am a Chromomorphic Lizard, like I said.

If a lady walks by in a red dress I will amaze my friends by matching her completely. “Hey everyone! Bet you can’t see me!’

A yellow lorry rumbling past outside in the street – no problem. Fresh sand in my cage – Arthur, where are you, where have you gone? I expect my fellows are all wondering. ‘Try to find me!’ I call out to them.

‘Oh really Arthur, do be quiet,’ says the gecko but I know she is impressed. I have not yet found a colour I cannot become, although I will confess I have a little difficulty with pink.

Yesterday someone bought the skink. I was glad to see him go. I don’t know why no one has bought me yet. Perhaps they can’t see me.

It does have its disadvantages, you know.