Usually when the Man from the Amazon Jungle swings by our house, the packets he brings are all addressed to Mr B. It is true to say that Mr B is somewhat proprietorial about All Things Amazon.
So when a packet arrived the other day addressed to me, he was a trifle nonplussed - but opened it anyway. It is irritating, I have to say, that he invariably opens the interesting items of mail even when they have my name clearly
emblazoned upon them - but leaves to me every single piece of junk mail, whether intended for him, for me or for Mrs Caterer who hasn't lived here for more than thirty years.
Tumbling out of the package came
none other than Little Hoglet, who is a figment of the not inconsiderable imagination of my friend Richard Middleton but who has a full and varied life currently being captured in a series of children's booklets called "Little Hoglet's Magical Year."
The first in the series told the story of Little Hoglet in a Christmas adventure involving a Robin, two stoats dancing in their winter coats and a mysterious character called Mr Ho! Ho! Ho! Guess who? This second book,
just as charmingly illustrated as the first, concerns a race between Little Hoglet and a veritable army of Eggs on Legs, all of whom are heading pell-mell towards the end of the rainbow. Obviously I don't want to be accused of spoilers so if you want to find
out what happens in one or both books, then I suggest you find a small child or three who like to be read to and pick up copies from the Amazon Jungle. I have three Small Ones in mind, myself, because The Rascal and the Twinkles will be here on Easter Sunday.
They will be a captive - and a captivated - audience.
I am planning to introduce all the customary Easter traditions to The Twinkles who now, at fifteen months old, will surely enjoy them. These include an
Easter Egg Hunt in the garden (weather permitting) when I will be crossing every finger and toe in the earnest hope that my eggs don't grow legs and race off towards the end of the rainbow, with or without Little Hoglet in hot pursuit. Over the years I am
sure this has actually happened more than once. Why, when so many of the eggs I had carefully hidden for previous treasure hunts disappeared forever, did this obvious explanation never occur to me?
also have a traditional egg and spoon race - only using potatoes instead of eggs. I find potatoes altogether more manageable and, unless Little Hoglet has something to say on the matter, I don't imagine potatoes grow legs. Though, let's face it, anything can
happen in the magical world inhabited by Little Hoglet.
When, incidentally, was the last time you found a hedgehog in your garden? Sadly their numbers are declining since the days of my youth when the Spiky
Ones regularly frequented our back garden and we plied them with bread and milk. The National Hedgehog Preservation Society (of which I imagine Little Hoglet is an honorary junior member) is organising a Hedgehog Awareness Week from 1 - 7 May when "hedgehoggy
events" are being organised all over the country. You can also register as a Hedgehog Champion and, inspired by Little Hoglet, I am about to enlist.
I wonder what the next big event in Little Hoglet's Magical
Year will be? Maybe he will set off on his Summer Holiday where he will build sandcastles that never get washed away by the tide and encounter scuttling crabs in rock pools teeming with sea life. It will be a bit like Finding Nemo, which is one of my favourite
films due in part to the fact that Dory reminds me of my dear Mum. Only starring Little Hoglet instead of a Clown Fish.
I shall leave it to my friend Rich to weave the next instalment - Little Hoglet is safe
in his hands. Perhaps indeed this enchanting little creature can raise awareness of the plight of the hedgehog and increase the number of Hedgehog Champions exponentially.
Or perhaps he will simply work his
magic to delight all those Small People who read of his adventures and laugh at them.
I rather think Little Hoglet - and his creator - would be well satisfied with that.