A rose by any other name

Have my darling children and I not suffered enough? Have we not been buffeted sufficiently by the move from Abroad and the reign of terror of the Puma of Peckham? And all that’s without even mentioning True Love and his antics. Huh! Well, you might feel we’ve been through traumas aplenty. I certainly do. But someone Up There clearly feels there are hedges we have yet to be pulled through backwards. Let me tell you all about it.

My treasures and I popped to the vet to get poor Mme Bovary a flu jab, and we decided to take young Jiffy along for the ride, to have a little manicure. Her toenails have been inflicting three-inch scars on poor Child Two for long enough.

All went well, in that we spent a happy couple of hours chasing the cat and rabbit around the house – I do feel that children should get plenty of exercise during half term, don’t you? – and we finally slammed them into a couple of bullet-proof pet-carriers for the five minute walk to the vets, which we decided to accomplish in the car, as we were all feeling unaccountably weary by this point. After the statutory wait at the vets, with the poor cat whimpering as her cage was sniffed unnecessarily thoroughly by several sick Dobermen and a sad-eyed spaniel, we were in, the cat was swiftly injected and the rabbit was lifted out for inspection.

Had we thought of getting her neutered, the vet asked me. Sensing that the wrong answer would set me back at least £50, I prevaricated. ‘She doesn’t have any rabbit ….friends,’ I said, hoping the children would not get wind of a discussion of S-E-X, which brings out sniggers in one and blushes in the other. ‘Ah well, 80 per cent of female rabbits get ovarian cancer, you know …..which won’t be a problem in your case,’ said the vet, as she rummaged around in little Jiffy’s furry knicker area, and suddenly unearthed a vivid pink object. My goodness, I thought to myself. Either that rabbit has a stunningly large clitoris, or ……’yes, she’s a boy!’ said the vet, with the air of a magician pulling, well, a bunny from a hat. The children looked on in stunned silence, as I said, ‘Are you sure?’ ‘You can look at it again if you like, but I assure you he has all the equipment ….’ said the vet.

I clamped a hand over Child Two’s eyes, backed away from the table, and confirmed that we would not be requiring another glimpse of the rabbit’s shiny new appendage. Poor Child One looked as though she was going to burst into tears. My first – or second – thought was of the lovely B, who had asked for Jiffy’s hand in marriage to her own adorable bunny Dill. ‘That means the wedding is off!’ I said to the vet, horror-struck. ‘Nonsense, you can always have a nice civil ceremony these days,’ was her enlightened advice. But somehow, I don’t think that would wash with B.

Child One was very silent all the way home. She didn’t even perk up during the renaming process, where we wrote out several boy name options on bits of paper, and waited for the rabbit to hop to the moniker of his choice. Somehow, it seemed strangely fitting that he chose the name Jumbo.

‘I feel as though I’ve never really known him at all,’ said Child One mournfully that evening, as she fed Jumbo a bit of carrot.

Ah, but how well do we really ever know anyone – even our nearest and dearest? There are always surprises in store, it seems.

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