WEEKS after the battle of wills began, my wife has declared victory in her long-running war with the squirrel.

However, I’ll let you judge whether it's something worth celebrating, or nothing more than a hollow victory.

Just to recap, my wife of 31 years has become obsessed in recent weeks with a squirrel that lives in a tree at the back of our garden, and is forever mounting daring raids on the nuts and fat-balls she lovingly hangs in her bird-feeders.

Whenever she sees the acrobatic Mister Squirrel hanging on the feeders, or even skipping towards them, she launches into a furious assault, making a guttural noise that I’ve previously likened to childbirth, before chasing him across the garden, often in her dressing gown.

The neighbour’s cat, that had previously been regarded as a pest, was even recruited as an ally after she saw it try to pounce on the cheeky little nut-thief one morning.

But, by using his athleticism and ingenuity, Mister Squirrel has always managed to dodge the guard-cat and to overcome various other obstacles that have been placed in his way. Until now, that is.

The other day, I found my wife sitting at the dining room table, rubbing her hands with glee and cackling like a Bond villain. “Ha, ha! You’re not so clever now, are you?” she was shouting.

The three bird-feeders had been brought in from the garden and positioned on the kitchen floor inside the back door, with Mister Squirrel peering through the glass from the outside. I swear he was wearing a frown as if his little brain was trying to work out how he was going to break-in.

“Look, he knows he can’t get to them – I’ve beaten him,” she told me with another cackle.

To me, however, it was merely evidence of how desperate the mother of my four children has become. She’d convinced herself that she’d outwitted a squirrel by bringing the bird-feeders inside the house behind a reinforced barrier of double-glazing.

I felt compelled to point out the fundamental flaw in her strategy: “Er, don’t you realise, if the squirrel can’t get to the nuts, neither can the birds?” I asked, hesitantly.

She paused for a few seconds as she considered her position, then replied: “I don’t care – it’s enough just to see the frustration on his face.”

Her satisfaction was short-lived because, by the next day, the bird-feeders were back outside in the garden and hostilities had swiftly resumed. The squirrel is back to mounting his raids and my wife is back to chasing him round the garden like a woman possessed.

It’s anyone’s guess where the battle goes from here, but I wouldn’t be surprised if, like President Trump, she has plans to build a big, beautiful wall.


THANK you to former teacher Mary Grimes for having a chat after I’d been guest speaker at an event, organised by the Women’s Fellowship of Holy Trinity Church, in Darlington, to raise funds for the local branch of the Multiple Sclerosis Society.

Mary remembered the time two little boys were getting ready for PE and one said to the other: “Don’t be silly! Don’t call it your willy. Call it by its proper name – your peanut.”

AND that brings me neatly to a lovely story passed on by Sarah Walker, who writes the Countryman’s Daughter in the Darlington & Stockton Times.

Sarah was settling down to watch a film at the cinema with her children. Middle son, Jasper – now 20 but a little boy at the time – broke the silence by shouting loudly: “Mummy can we get some cockporn?”

It wasn't that kind of film – honest.