Inappropriate Touching

Nuts
Suddenly large numbers of these rather sinister signs have sprung up all over Greenwich Park.  I guess they are saying ‘It’s all right to pick chestnuts up off the ground but don’t try to knock ‘em off the trees’.  But ‘It is forbidden to touch the trees in any way’ evokes some very peculiar images.

Presumably the second half of the sign is aimed at Japanese tourists?  (‘Yus, we know who’s responsible…’)  Or are there gangs of illegal Chinese workers, like cockle-pickers, intent on denuding our chestnut trees of their nuts?  (Are they a Chinese aphrodisiac?)

Incidentally the trees were full of yakking green parakeets, whose feral population is growing, and visibly migrating, year by year.  By next summer they’ll be in our back gardens;  several flocks of them, of twenty or thirty birds each, flew over me (yakking) as I walked home.  I have a horrible premonition that in ten years’ time they will have ousted all indigenous birdlife in the Park, if not the whole of the south of England. 

And have you noticed how the hated invasive grey squirrels are growing smaller and cheekier, and are actually turning red?  Very Orwellian.  (I grew up with a cute stuffed red squirrel in a glass case, presumably shot by my maternal grandfather.  But it had so faded in the sun that no one would believe it was a red one…)

Looking on the brighter side, Bill Oddie thinks that global warming might give our native red squirrels a chance to fight back.  Apparently, it’s not that the grey squirrels are American and therefore (*ahem*) bigger and greedier;  just that their breeding cycle means they get to all the food and nesting sites before the red ones can.  But the reds’ cycle is changing, so it seems.

Also on the brighter side, the Rose Garden still has amazing numbers of beautiful roses in bloom – in the second week of October.  And I just heard a great tit going ‘teacher, teacher’ – does he think it’s March already?  Or is he hoping to fit in an extra brood before the winter sets in?  Hmm. 

And there’s a sinister grey battleship anchored alongside Greenwich Pier.  The times are out of joint…

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8 Comments on “Inappropriate Touching”

  1. Clover Says:

    This is interesting! and funny! Have you seen the movie about the wild parrots that live in San Francisco? I think it’s called “The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill.” Fascinating. I tried to go to the parakeet link from your blog but it wouldn’t open. Here in USA we call budgies “parakeets” but I was wondering if the birds you are describing are actually what we call parrots, like the ones in the aforementioned movie.

    We have a hazelnut orchard here (aka filberts) which is very beautiful and, even though it’s a working commercial orchard, you could gather hundreds of nuts off the ground if you wanted. As far as I know no one has ever tried to touch the trees. Although in Oregon we are well-known for being tree-huggers.

  2. Nightingale Says:

    I have seen the documentary that Clover mentioned, “The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill.” It was a facinating story. Years ago, I read a novel called “Elsewhere in the Land of Parrots” by Jim Paul, a sweet love story with an ornithological background, that referenced Mark Bittner from Telegraph Hill. This is his website: http://www.wildparrotsbook.com/index.html

    I so want to say something bawdy about innapropriate touching, great tits and nuts, and I just can’t think of a thing!

  3. Nightingale Says:

    Well, nothing that wouldn’t cause splinters….

  4. jonathanburton Says:

    Better keep my hands to myself.
    I wouldn’t want my nuts confiscated.

  5. mona lisa Says:

    I don’t believe i’ve ever touched a tree in an inappropriate manner. Did you ever play a game with chestnuts, where you put a string through one, and so does your friend, then you take turns whacking each other’s chestnut, till one of them breaks. Of course, the one with the intact chestnut wins. Or is that just a canadian thing?

  6. jonathanburton Says:

    Conkers!! Absolutely. Now under threat from Health and Safety freaks as one of the conkers might ping back and hurt the poor little dear. Or maybe it’s the Political Correctness police who think it encourages aggression…

    Great to have your comments! thanks )*j*( [that’s an elephant]


  7. In the memorable words of the Bishop, “dance naked around a tree, and maybe eat some ell ess dee.. for it may be a long time, long time, really really long time… ’til we go ’round again.”

    Just don’t get caught.

  8. jonathanburton Says:

    Of course they were sweet chestnuts (the sort that get roasted and also used in oriental cookery) so they are indeed a desirable delicacy. Not horse chestnuts — which are pretty and shiny but inedible — as I had asusumed.


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