One of the manifold joys of old age is the increasing number of waiting rooms in which you are enjoined to spend your time, at no expense to yourself but at, we are told, considerable expense to the National Health Service. But once in a blue moon, even the NHS has to send you to see a very special specialist. It was while sitting in a Harley Street waiting room a couple of years ago that I was, more in hope than expectation, shuffling magazines like a bad Bridge hand and came across a careworn copy of Horse & Hound dating from 1965, which rightfully belonged on the Antiques Roadshow, several copies of the paparazzi’s paradise magazines predicting the longevity of Madonna’s marriage to Guy Ritchie. As it happened, it was a rather more recent copy of New Scientist which caught my eye, as on the cover was the promise of an intriguing article.
“Reptiles can be hedonists too”.
Which statement rather begs a question, well two actually; the first answers itself - why wouldn't a lizard want to lead a life in pursuit of pure undiluted pleasure, the second, rather more prosaic, how the hell would it get the cork out of a bottle of Chateau Mouton Rothschild as a precursor to an evening’s revelry? I imagine too, that cutting a line might present its own insuperable difficulties, consider: how many iguana do you know that are in the habit of carrying a mirror and credit card about their persons, not to mention a rolled up £20 note?
What is going in the watery world that we know not wot of? Are sybaritic amphibia donning the motley of a Friday night, repairing to shady back-shore clubs on the outskirts of their particular rock pool, and later, fedoras rakishly tilted over one eye, sidling up to a louche Salamander and asking “Got any good gear?” Were we there, would we see Monitor lizards, placed each side of the door of some pond-side dive, allowing entrance to only the prettiest geckos while preventing the ingress of undesirable and over-crested newts? Is there an underworld of the cold-blooded living secret lives of debauchery and sexual excess in the zoos and pet shops of this green and pleasant land? Are amphibious BMWs, with darkened windows pulsing to the beat of a different drum, cruising the streets of our towns and cities, ferrying gangs of Bufo Calamita from deal to deal, silver wraps of crack cocaine secreted about their person? They would, of course, be accompanied by Cobras, riding shotgun, ready for a quick spit should it become necessary? Tell me, have you ever seen teenage turtles heading for a Rave in a sleepy lagoon? Were they lugging crates of mineral water in order to ward off the effects of dehydration after popping an E or two? When last did you see a python, oblivious to the sound of the music, slithering towards the undergrowth, nostrils at the end of its darting tongue ringed with a suspicious white powder?
Have we all been living our lives unaware of these nefarious activities? Has this been yet another no-go area for the forces of law and order, are they banned from performing “Stop and search” on passing toads lest they infringe the rights of a cold blooded minority?