Do not let a ferret sniff your private parts, even if it is called Fatima, says Jeremy Clarkeby Jeremy Clarke / October 20, 1996 / Leave a comment
On the last Sunday in August, I took my ferrets to the North West Terrier Lurcher and Ferret Club summer show and barbecue. It was a still, sultry afternoon-one of the hottest days of the year-and the movements of the animals and humans were noticeably economical. They mostly sat or lay together in the shade of the ancient hedge that enclosed the field until they were called to the appropriate showing ring or table.
I have three albino ferrets, two jills and a hob, just weaned, bought for 50p each at the end of July when almost everyone you meet is trying to sell ferret kittens. I took them to the show in a large plastic barrel and left them under an elderbush while my son and I went to eye up the competition. Ferret people will talk ferrets all day and I soon got chatting to a humble sort of chap who had brought 15 along. We stood beside his row of divers crates and boxes and talked ferrets, then we sat down in the thick grass and talked more ferrets and he got them out one by one and he and I passed them between us as we conversed.
Sometimes he would wave a ferret in the air to give emphasis to his words. While I was speaking, one of his elegant lurcher bitches got to her feet, tip-toed among us and sniffed delicately at my moving lips. The man’s wife, who was sitting placidly in the back of the car with the door open and her legs out, noted my unconcern and gave me a discreet smile of acceptance.
This quiet summer idyll was interrupted, however, by a boastful weatherbeaten old man wearing a stetson who came and stood over us, glancing cursorily at the ferrets, then drew attention to himself by showing my son the jagged white scars he had all over his hands and wrists. He claimed they were mostly bites received when picking up live badgers with his bare hands-an unusual feat of daring that had earned him something of a reputation in his locality, he said. (The longest, thickest scar which went halfway around his wrist was an exception as it had been inflicted by a man in a pub with a broken bottle and a grievance.) This extraordinary, lacerated man turned out to be the ferret judge and had driven up…