Ferreting out a solution

By , Virginia Graham is a free-lance writer living in London.

What makes life so delightful are its surprises. A short time ago every London newspaper, including the stately Times, carried a story that is as incredible as any story can possibly be.

As the world knows, the Prince of Wales is getting married on July 29, his wedding being beamed and broadcast to every corner of the world by every means known to modern technology. It happens, however, that in order to link the outside balcony on Buckingham Palace (from which, presumably, the happy pair will wave to the baying crowds) to an even further outside commentator, it is necessary to draw cables through an underground duct. This duct, it appears, is as full of bends as a euphonium, and no cable is flexible enough to take the curves on its own.

With dazzling resourcefulness, reminiscent of the war days, when our ability to improvise was at its height, someone suggested that a ferret might be used to drag the cables from A to B, the polecat being accustomed to subterranean passages and not minding a bit about bends.

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And so, unlikey as it may seem, this is to be. The ferret, upon whose natural talens so much depends, has been chosen. It is called Nipper, and its photograph, emerging from a practice run through a drain pipe, and printed by every reputable newspaper, shows it looking very alert and businesslike, possibly a trifle arrogant, head up and whiskers bristling. Though no one doubts it is a keen royalist and will do its duty, when the actual moment comes for cable-harnessed Nipper to go underground, to be on the safe side there will be a large piece of redolent ham placed at the palace end of the journey (the length of which has not been divulged, but it is bound to be quite a trek.) This is not a bribe, it is a reward, say the authorities.

Weddingwise it is certainly worth every penny it costs. For who could imagine in his wildest dreams that when aeronauts orbit in outer space, when the moon is visited, when computers write poems, and silicon chips loft industry onto another plane, that the only way of getting a cable into Buckingham Palace is by attaching it to a ferret.

It is true one sometimes wonders why, with all these technical advances, it still seems so difficult to get connected by telephone to one's aunt who lives on the other side of the park; but this business with Nipper is really going toom far. It is toom amazing. Toom unbelievable.

Delightful, though.

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