JOURNAL March 2012
w Wil o l l o F at: com daily spot. g o l b 2. twars n a / / http:
Original photographs of Wilson used by kind permission of TamanduaGirl: www.livingwithanteaters.com
wednesday Driving his sheep home from Hempstead Meadow, Wilson saw this newspaper hoarding outside the newsagents. He immediately tied his sheep up outside the shop and went in to buy a copy. (He was a little surprised to be charged for the paper, what with having the Freedom of Uckfield etc, but paid up (almost) without argument.) The paper carried a leader revealing that some of its readers are disappointed (‘outraged’ is the word they used) by the Mayor honouring Wilson. They have written angry letters pointing out that they contracted food poisoning after W’s Haunted Mystery Tour, or had unfulfilled contracts for gardening work and landscaping projects. W is a little bit brought down, and says he probably won’t send cuttings of this to his mum, Mrs Vermilingua.
Thursday In today’s Uckfield Examiner Wilson has now been accused of stealing sheep! This is blatantly untrue, as he has returned it anyway, telling me that they were ‘emotionally incompatible’, ‘Which makes me only a Sheep Borrower’ he explained. W seems disappointed but otherwise unconcerned about the accusations levelled against him in the paper. ‘Most of my ancestors were sheep-rustlers anyway’, he says. ‘How do you think Great Great […] Grandfather, Alberto Victor Gutiérrez-López got to be a millionaire?’ When I reminded him of the saying All Publicity is Good Publicity, and a couple of Oscar Wilde quotes he perked up quite a bit. Notwithstanding, he vowed to extract a printed apology from the Uckfield Examiner! I must say I’m quite curious as to how Wilson and the sheep could be ‘emotionally incompatible’. W is tightlipped… but I’ll get it out of him sooner or later.
friday Wilson has written a very stiff letter to the Editor at the Uckfield Examiner, outlining the facts, demanding that a full retraction and an apology be printed in the paper, and threatening him with the PCC and the Leveson Inquiry on Media Ethics. He then asked me what I was planning for tomorrow. I said that I’d thought about a relaxed day drinking coffee and watching old movies. ‘No, no, no!’ he replied, ‘tomorrow is National Ant Day - we must celebrate it in the traditional way with an Ant Search!’ W had assumed that I’d known about Ant Day - in Costa Rica it’s apparently like Easter but with ants instead of eggs, and celebrated on the first Saturday in March. All the young anteaters go out into the countryside looking for the First Ant of Spring. The first anteater to find an ant is crowned Ant King or Queen and the ant is paraded round the town in a jam jar… before being eaten by the Ant King. Or Queen. ‘Everyone knows that!’ W said, scathingly. Sometimes I am shocked by the depth of my own ignorance!
saturday We set off early this National Ant Day heading to the woods and carrying our essential supplies: a gold crown and a jam jar. It was cold and damp, barely light yet, but Wilson assured me that ‘it’s the early anteater that catches the ant’ which is apparently a traditional Costa Rican proverb(!) We looked under all the rotting tree trunks and other likely places, but without success. ‘Of course, National Ant Day is always a lot warmer in Costa Rica,’ he remarked. ‘It’s so cold in your country that the ants are probably still hibernating.’ It appears that Wilson’s Mum, Mrs Vermilingua, was crowned Ant Queen three successive years when she was a child, a feat which no anteater in Costa Rica has ever equalled, before or since. W was determined to be Ant King this year… all he had to do was find an ant. But sadly it was not to be. ‘We’ll have much better luck next year’ he pronounced, confidently. What a brave little soldier! We’ve just arrived home and I’m about to make some hot chocolate to warm us up. I might slip a little Ant Gin into it...
sunday Following his ‘exposure’ in what he now calls ‘the gutter press’, Wilson intends to restore his reputation and put everything right by inventing and building a domestic robot. ‘It will be a boon to all mankind’ he assures me. W eventually told me about his problem with the sheep. It seems they were quietly grazing in Hempsted Meadow - the sheep on grass, Wilson hunting unsuccessfully for ants - when they started telling each other jokes. The sheep made the fatal mistake of telling W the ‘very rude ant-eater joke’, and that finished their relationship. It remains now only for me to discover what that joke is...
monday Last night we watched a documentary on Animal Planet about an orphanage for sloths in Costa Rica. Wilson was riveted to the screen as he’s never actually been to Costa Rica and was desperate to see what his homeland looked like. While I cooed over the baby sloths, he waxed lyrical about the countryside… although he did admit that some of the baby sloths were ‘quite cute’. Each of the baby sloths had a teddy bear to hug, and W has decided that his mission in life will be to raise money to send teddy bears to the Sloth Orphanage, declaring, ‘I shall devote my life to philanthropy, to help those less fortunate than myself’. ‘What about the domestic robot you were going to invent?’ I asked him. He considered this for a moment, and announced, ‘When they are trained, they can assemble teddy bears for the baby sloths. This is now my life’s work!’
tuesday In the early hours of this morning I awoke with a start - I had experienced a revelation, an insight, a moment of satori! I reached out of bed and groped around for my iPad. Of course, I couldn’t find it as Wilson had stowed it in his nest in the tumble dryer, so I’ll have to wait until later when I can use it without him noticing. There’s something I need to check out before I talk to him - I don’t want to raise his hopes in case I’m wrong about this. wednesday Wilson was using the iPad all day yesterday, researching the Sloth Orphanage and teddy bear manufacturers, so I’ve still not had a chance to check out my idea... When I was a child, I remember working out what it would take to be a Farthing Millionaire. One farthing was a ¼ of an old penny, and there were 240 pennies in a pound, so I would need only… £1041/12/8d. Wilson’s Great [something] Grandfather Alberto Victor Gutiérrez-López was a millionaire… in Costa Rica.
thursday I finally got hold of the iPad without Wilson noticing what I was doing, and that nice Mr Google (how does he know so much?) informed me that the currency in Costa Rica is called the Colon, and has an exchange rate of 1 Colon:0.00123 £GB -- only a smidgin over a farthing! So, at today’s rate of exchange, 1,000,000 Colon are worth only a little over a grand. Later today I will tell Wilson that he need make only £1200 to be a Colon Millionaire and fulfil his promise to his mother. Result! friday Wilson and I took advantage of the lovely weather today to do a little gardening; I did some weeding while W probed the ground for early spring ants. After an hour or so we took a break and sat down in the garden with a cup of tea each, and I mentioned my research concerning the Colon Exchange Rate. Wilson was much less excited than I expected, saying that he was born in England and is a British citizen, therefore his savings should be accounted in the currency of this country: Pounds Sterling, no more, no less. Moreover, he reminded me that the money is no longer his prime concern, the welfare of the baby sloths is all that occupies his mind. He also pointed out that the correct spelling is Colones!
saturday A couple of days ago Wilson wrote to the Editor at the Uckfield Examiner asking when their apology to him was going to be printed; he received a letter from him today telling him that the apology had appeared in last Thursday’s edition on page 23. We both went to the recycling bin and finally located the relevant copy. Page 23 was a bit stained by teabags and gravy, but W eventually spotted one of the clues in the crossword puzzle: ‘7 Down: we done him wrong, 3-5’. I thought this was pretty paltry, but W thinks it is quite reasonable and feels that his honour has been satisfied. sunday Wilson’s all-time hero is Tim Roth, and we’ve been watching re-runs of the wonderful tv series Lie To Me. I don’t mind W practicing Dr Lightman’s (the Roth character) shambling walk, but when he puts his face right in mine and tilts his head to one side quizzically while he ‘reads my face’ it does make me feel a little uncomfortable.
monday Yesterday Wilson was contacted by one of his friends who had actually seen Tim Roth walking along in London. She said he didn’t shamble as he walked, and that he was wearing horn rimmed glasses. W has bought a pair of horn-rimmed glasses off eBay, but says firmly that ‘The shambling walk stays.’ tuesday Wilson has started work on designing his domestic robot, although he is now calling it his teddy bear making robot. His design process is severely hampered by most of the components he needs having not yet been invented. He’s not too downhearted, though, as he says when his Tim Roth horn rimmed glasses arrive he will look a lot more intellectual and will probably be able to think of workarounds. wednesday Wilson’s eBay horn rimmed glasses have arrived, and he is quite disappointed. Honestly, his head is not the best shape for wearing spectacles and when he did manage to balance them in place he admitted himself that they made him look less Tim Roth, more Jack Duckworth. He fears that this lack of intellectual improvement may scupper his plans for the robot. ‘How can I do my best inventing if my glasses keep falling off?’ he grumbled.
thursday Before he posted it, Wilson showed me the Mothers’ Day card he’s made for his mum, Mrs Vermilingua. He seems to have a strangely formal relationship with her. friday Wilson and I got a bit drunk last night on Ant Wine, and after a little cajoling he eventually told me the Very Rude Ant Joke. This is it: An anteater goes into a bar and asks for a drink. The barman asks, ‘What would you like — a beer?’ The anteater replies, ‘Noooooo.’ ‘A glass of wine perhaps?’ The anteater replies, ‘Noooooo.’ ‘How about a vodka and ant juice then” The anteater replies, ‘Noooooo.’ Finally the barman gives up, asking, ‘Why the long “No”s?’ I told Wilson that wasn’t in the least rude. He replied, solemnly, ‘Anteaters are very sensitive about the length of their noses.’
saturday Wilson had a bit of a hangover yesterday, and was dismayed that he’d actually told me That Joke! Today, though, is another day. The sun is shining brightly and in the words W’s famous poet ancestor, apparently, ‘In the Spring a young Anteater’s Fancy Lightly Turns to Thoughts of Going to the Garden Centre.’
sunday Wilson plans to open our garden to the public this summer, to raise funds for the Sloth Orphanage. Obviously, this involves W doing a lot of supervising, and me doing a lot of double-digging. And weeding. When I get to a bit W thinks I can be safely trusted to get on with, he sits down in the conservatory with the iPad, occasionally glancing up just to keep an eye on me. ‘What are you doing in there?’ I asked him, gasping for breath from the digging. ‘The posters and tickets won’t design themselves you know!’ he replied.
monday Watching tv last night, we saw something about the Eurovision Song Contest. Wilson remarked that he was looking forward to seeing this again and how he’d need a new pack of coloured pens for his scoring sheet. This made me realise that he had been living with me for about a year… and he hadn’t celebrated a birthday! tuesday This morning I asked Wilson about the date of his birthday. He in turn asked me what a birthday is and what happens on a birthday, so I explained about birthday cake and presents. He considered this for about half a second then told me it was his birthday ‘tomorrow!’ I thought this was a bit of a coincidence, and after I pointed out that there really wasn’t time to organise any presents or cake by tomorrow he confessed that he had no idea when his birthday really was. I suggested he write to his mum, Mrs Vermilingua, to check the date. wednesday Wilson has finally written to his mum, Mrs Vermilingua, telling her all his news and asking about the date of his birthday.
thursday Weeding in the garden today I came across an ants’ nest - the first ants of the year! Wilson was delighted and proceeded to eat them all, before falling asleep in the sun. He slept for some time, snoring peacefully, then awoke suddenly while I happened to be looking at him. ‘What?!’ he asked, indignantly, ‘What?! Eating ants isn’t easy, you know - they keep running away!’ friday Thinking about it, Wilson has accomplished quite a lot in the year he’s been living with me. He may not yet be a millionaire, but he has been awarded the Freedom of Uckfield Town, he has a (self-awarded) OBE and a string of failed business enterprises. That’s quite an achievement for an anteater. saturday Wilson has received a letter from his mum, Mrs Vermilingua. She says that what with Boo having so many stepfathers and half-brothers and -sisters, (including several that he’s not met yet and a few more about to be born any day) she has rather lost track of birthday dates and has no idea of the date of his birthday. However, she assured him that she is very proud of him and all his achievements. sunday We’re all over the place with Daylight Saving! First thing this morning I started putting the clocks forward an hour, then I noticed Wilson was putting some of them forward an hour as well… and some of them back an hour as he ‘wasn’t sure which it was.’ Consequently some of the clocks are right, some an hour slow, some two hours slow and a few are an hour fast.
monday Looking back through my Journal I discovered that Wilson came to live here with me on 11 May 2011, so not quite a year ago. I suggested to W that we call this date his ‘official’ birthday. He asked whether that would allow sufficient time for arranging cake and presents, and when I told him I was sure it would, he agreed. He was about to send a presents list to Father Birthmas, but I told him that wouldn’t be necessary. tuesday I’m wondering what to get Wilson for his birthday - it’s difficult to buy for an anteater who, whatever he wants, just orders it himself from Amazon on my plastic. My only hope is to get him something he hasn’t thought of. After Tim Roth, his big hero is Gregory House (Hugh Laurie) but buying him trainers and a walking stick seems inappropriate. Maybe he’d like the Hugh Laurie Blues CD ‘Let Them Talk’? I’ll sound him out about that.
wednesday Maybe for Wilson’s birthday I could Sponsor a Sloth in his name? Or perhaps he’d like a boxed set of Bob Dylan or Leonard Cohen CDs? One of his friends has suggested a box set of Hugh Laurie’s non-House work. I was doubtful at first, but now I think it might be a good thing to widen W’s view of Laurie as an actor - I’m pretty sure Wilson believes he really is a doctor called House and the show is a documentary.
thursday We visited Eastbourne yesterday, to make the most of the lovely weather. I had a Fish & Chip lunch on the Pier, but vegetarian Wilson had only chips, leaving him a bit hungry… which led to an unpleasantness in the ornamental gardens: W spotted some ‘well juicy’ ants living underneath the pansies, and went to hoover them up. A very officious gardener shouted at me to ‘get that dog off the grass and put it on a lead.’ W naturally assumed that he was referring to someone else, so his feelings were unhurt and what could have been a very nasty scene was narrowly avoided. Driving home, we noticed several queues of cars at filling stations, and I could see W was getting thoughtful. Suddenly he shouted, ‘Jerry cans! I need to corner the market in Jerry cans and sell them at a huge profit! The money will all be invested in teddy bears for the sloth orphanage, so some good will come out of this suffering!’ In spite of the sunny weather, my heart sank a little…
A journal of my life with a talking anteater. I appear to have been adopted by a talking ant-eater called Wilson. This is my journal, listin...