Saturday, 1 May 2010
Walking past a row of fancy furniture shops I feel someone looking at me. I stop in my tracks and turn round. It is a hedgehog. We lock eyes. He is sat under a posh dining room chair, he is stuffed and he is for sale. ‘What an undignified end!’ I think, ‘And what sort of person would pay £245 for a hedgehog for their shelves?’
It reminds me of a long-haired artist I used to know in Sussex. He used to hack at and stuff animals, but instead of glueing them to bits of boring tree stump, he would dress them in hats or make them walk on stilts with blindfolds on. He’d go out on a Sunday, hunting for roadkill, and return to his basement with a bag of rotten seagulls, fish heads and fox chunks. I once stumbled across a hollowed-out donkey’s head, filled with sand, drying in his back garden. Neighbourhood cats were sniffing it then running away. He went on to pop the mummified donkey in a high chair and sell it for £1,000. I think he was vegetarian.
I feel sorry for the hedgehog in the posh shop window. He looks out of place. He looks sad. I wonder if the police would throw the book at you for shoplifting a hedgehog, if your heart was in the right place? I would quite like to release him into a wooded area. I imagine he’d be happier in a park, rather than gazing out onto the frantic city streets. He’d probably even take the humiliation of being dressed in a top hat and ruby slippers than have to suffer that much longer.