This morning, Julie and I were sleeping in, after a late night . At 8.45am, We were awakened by the sound of the doorbell. This may not sound like a big deal, but this is Beetley. There are no Jehovah Witnesses visiting on a regular basis, and we were not expecting a parcel, so the doorbell is always a surprise. I donned my dressing gown, and went to the front door. There was a neighbour, from the ‘back’ (Spinney Close), accompanied by his grand daughter. I recognised him from a brief meeting, whilst walking Ollie in the nearby meadows. His opening line was, “Have you lost a ferret?”. Now in my former flat in London, this would have been answered with a guffaw, so I had to remember that I was now in Norfolk. ” We have just seen a ferret in our garden, heading your way. It was this big”, he continued, opening his arms in the way of a boastful angler, indicating a size approximating to a slender fox. “You will have to be careful that it doesn’t attack your dog”, he warned, adding that he remembered Ollie from the encounter in the meadows. I assured him that I had not seen a ferret, did not own one, and knew of nobody nearby who did. He left, with advice to keep my dog in, in case the said mammalian carnivore should appear on my patio. His bemused grand daughter was texting on her mobile phone throughout, no doubt updating her Facebook status as ‘hunting a ferret’. I went back inside, and told Julie what the excitement was about. We decided to get up, have tea , and prepare for the day ahead. As I was enjoying my morning drink, and the first cigarette of the day, the doorbell sounded again. After hearing commotion, and loud Norfolk accents nearby, we guessed it concerned the ferret. Julie answered this time, and there was another neighbour, also from Spinney Close, warning us of the roving ferret. This neighbour also recognised Ollie from the meadow, where he had enjoyed a play with her dog, Winston. When Julie told her that the other man had previously warned us, she made her apologies, and left. We later heard loud conversations, and quite a few people out and about ( for a Monday), presumably in search of the hapless ferret. To the best of our knowledge, it was never seen again, so presumably made good its escape.
This led us to reflect on how different life is in Norfolk. Less than a year ago, in Camden, we could well have had a Police helicopter hovering a hundred feet above our flat, searching for an escaped gunman, or there might have been a door to door inquiry, following a fatal stabbing two hundred yards from our front door. Since living in Beetley, nothing has happened. The incident of the ferret has been the biggest cause of animation amongst our neighbours, and caused us to receive our only unsolicited callers, in seven months.
It makes me feel glad to have moved here.
Here is an update to the above post. The ferret has appeared! When I was out walking Ollie the next day, Julie spotted the big, beige-coloured animal lurking around the back of our leylandii hedge. She went outside to take a photo of it, and it ran towards her. Scared it might bite her, she retreated inside, and the ferret went into the shed to investigate. When she had seen it leave the shed sometime later, Julie locked it, and stayed inside the house until I returned. So, there really was a Beetley ferret.