Saturday, May 22

​ Today started out like most others. Tweak and I ate breakfast and then took our morning cup of tea out by the Greenhouse. It is summer and nature is in full bloom.  However, half of the blooms on my special variety of Shockpocket lilies have been munched off by the legions of rabbits that inhabit the environs surrounding our estate.

Now, I am a humane sort and wish no ill on our little furry friends, but their behavior this year has been the last straw. You see, these lilies have been bred for a special purpose and they could someday be of insurmountable importance to the world.

For the past few weeks, I have been hard at work developing a unique, original, and, I must say, quite clever way to save my lilies by relocating the rabbits from our estate to other nearby forests and fields.

Okay, maybe it is not totally original. You see, I actually drew my inspiration from a mechanical device that was popular during the Middle Ages, although the original concept was hardly designed for relocating rabbits.

So how did I come up with my latest invention? Well, as with any scientific dilemma, I started by identifying the problem, imagining the desired outcome, and then developing various scenarios for getting from point A (the problem) to point B (the outcome).

Point A - The problem: A gazillion pesky rabbits eating my finest shrubbery and lilies.

Point B - The desired outcome: No pesky rabbits eating my finest shrubbery and lilies.

Potential scenarios to get from A to B.


Scenario 1: Make the plants distasteful.

Analysis:  Too difficult. The lilies already taste foul to me. How can I determine what tastes terrible to a rabbit? Too long to figure out.


Scenario 2: Shoot the rabbits.

Analysis: Holes in the rabbits. Holes in the flowers. Holes in my house windows. Too messy. And anyway, I like rabbits. Sure, occasionally in my stew, but for the most part, I would rather see them run free…On someone else’s land.


Scenario 3: Relocate the rabbits.

Analysis: Eureka. That’s it. Move the little fur-balls off the Shockpocket estate to another property where they can dine their hearts out on someone else’s flowers.


The next step had been to develop the relocation device, and today, Tweak and I were getting our first chance to observe it in all its glorious action.

“There. In the sky. Did you see it?”

Tweak’s voice was trembling with excitement as we watched the first bunny fly over our heads, over the greenhouse, across the airfield, and off into the distance.

“It worked, it worked!!!” she exclaimed.

We toasted each other with a clink of our teacups as another rabbit whizzed over our heads and out into the yonder field.

“Smashing. I believe we have really done it,” I exclaimed. “At this rate, all of the rabbits will be transported via air travel before a fortnight has passed.”

As I write this it has occurred to me that you must be curious as to just what method of transport we devised for our little friends. I am sure you will be suitably impressed when you read about it.

You see, many, many years ago, some ingenious people developed a mechanical contraption for the purpose of throwing heavy objects over the castle walls of the people with whom they were fighting.

More often than not, these objects included the odd dead horse or other beast, also dead, to really stink things up by landing smack inside the castle. Of course, the arrival of a stinky dead animal in the middle of the courtyard leads those in said courtyard to make haste and escape from the overwhelming odor, thus forcing them to surrender to the enemy in the name of good taste (or smell, as it were).

By now, you can probably guess the name of the apparatus used to fling objects over castle walls. No, it is not a thing-flinger. That is something totally different and only good for throwing very small objects across, say, a modest sized room in your home. The device I refer to is called a catapult. By making a few minor modifications, Tweak and I were able to create and camouflage several of these devices all around our prized flower beds. A few carrots placed in just the right locations over the hidden catapults and our hungry friends would receive a first-class flight to exotic destinations, in-flight meal included.

This may lead you to another question. One that did not occur to me until this very day as Tweak and I sat and watched the parade of flying rabbits winging their way off the Shockpocket estate.

That question could be:

If the original catapults were used to fling dead animals, why did you think it would work on live rabbits?

Or, your question could be:

If you take a rabbit and drop it out of the sky, how do you think it will feel when it hits the ground? And where exactly are these rabbits landing?

That is actually three questions, but they are all excellent. And none of them occurred to me prior to testing our catapult.

So, there we were, sitting and watching the flying rabbits when a big one hits me. No, not a rabbit. A big idea.

Or, rather, a big question. “What is happening to our furry little friends when they reach the other end of their flight?”

I had only pictured what a wonderful time they would have flying over the estate and enjoying the view from several hundred feet up in the sky. You see, the only other time a wild rabbit has the chance to take in such a splendid view is from the clutches of some large owl or hawk and, as such a flight invariably ends inside the owl’s or hawk’s stomach, I don’t suppose the furry fellows are much inclined towards enjoying the view.

No sooner had I started imagining the awful fate of the rabbits at the conclusion of their trips than Tweak and I heard the distinct sound of a large lorry rumbling up the twisting Shockpocket Estate driveway. To my horror, what should be speeding up the drive but an official truck from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Then I knew my worst fears had come true. My idea had been quite literally SMASHING.

I could picture squished bunnies all over the countryside and it was my fault. For the past few hours, members of the RSPCA had doubtlessly been peeling bunnies off local trees and buildings, scraping them off the roads, and plucking them out of ponds. The vision was not a pretty one.

I resigned myself to the consequences of my actions and walked out to the lorry, Tweak trailing a few steps behind me. At the driveway, a stout man wearing a black uniform and dour face exited the blue vehicle and approached. My hands trembled as he began to speak.

“Sir. I am Officer Clive Trapman of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.”

He shifted his rather significant mass from one leg to the other.

“There are reports of flying rabbits landing in the countryside.”

He paused and focused his eyes directly onto mine.

“Do you know anything about this?”

I fidgeted.

Tweak hiccupped.

“Sir. Further, there are reports that rabbits have been seen flying out of your estate.”

I hiccupped.

A muffled sound came from Tweak’s direction.

The man sniffed and smiled.

“Ah, somebody must be having blueberry scones for breakfast.”

In actual fact we had earlier enjoyed a most delicious English breakfast of eggs, sausage, mushrooms, toast, and red beans.

Tweak looked down and turned bright red.

Then, in the next instant, the stout man’s eyes widened, and he yelled in a high-pitched voice. “Blimey, I just saw a rabbit fly out of your garden!”

Tweak turned.

I turned.

And a large white rabbit proceeded to make a perfect arc in the sky as it flew out of the estate and disappeared from view.

“Ten points for style,” Tweak giggled.

I kicked her in the shin, certain that I was about to be arrested for animal cruelty.

The stout official looked back at me and continued.

“Sir, are you Thaddeaus Shockpocket?”

I answered, “Yes.”

Now my hands trembled even more, and my heart raced.

He repeated.

“Are you THE Thaddeaus Shockpocket?”

“YES,” I blurted.

Now I was certain that my reputation was further ruined, and, in the process, I had probably created enough bunny carcasses to keep the county in rabbit stew for a month. I was also clearly “in a stew” and would most likely be spending much more than the next month locked up in the local jail.

Then, without a pause, the stout man broke into a wide smile and patted me on the back.

“Sir, I must say that it is indeed a privilege and honor to meet the infamous Thaddeaus Shockpocket. And it is an even bigger privilege and honor to award you this certificate for meritorious achievement from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.”

As he shook my hand and placed the certificate in the other, he pushed out his chest and added.

“Personally, signed by me, Officer Clive Archibald Trapman the third ... at your service.”

I snatched a stiff blade of grass from between my feet and twisted it in my ear as I tried to remove the ear wax that must certainly have been blocking my hearing.

“Excuse me, my dear man. Could you repeat that?”

Officer Trapman repeated his little speech as I took and unrolled the certificate. It seemed authentic. In the lower right-hand corner was an official-looking red wax stamp bearing the initials RSPCA, clearly from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. And, just as clearly, situated just to the left of the red wax stamp, was the signature of none other than the stout man standing directly in front of us.  Officer C.A.Trapman, Local Chief Inspector and Lead Supervisor of the Yorkshire Office of the RSPCA.

I looked over at Tweak and saw that she was grinning from ear to ear.

“My plan must have worked,” she giggled.

Officer Trapman continued. “Sir, you are a most ingenious man.  Whoever would have thought of transporting animals via air and then catching them safely in giant nets at their final destination? Me and the lads down at the society are so impressed that we are even thinking about using your invention to relocate nuisance animals. That is, if you will share it with us.”

He removed his blue cap and scratched his shiny bald head. “Although we are still puzzling at how to build a net sturdy enough to catch, say, a giraffe.”

He continued, “Been having a tad bit of a problem with giraffes wandering off from the town zoo and harassing a sweet old man and woman in their cottage down the lane. Seems the giraffes have developed a bit of a liking for the thatch roofing on their house. Your contraption could be just the thing to send the little, sorry, make that big, beggars back home whenever they get out and up to their mischief.”

Still shocked and somewhat dazed by this unexpected turn of events, I could only mumble something about looking into it.

Then the stout man in the uniform tipped his cap and apologized for not being able to join us for our wonderful-smelling blueberry scones as he turned back toward his truck.  It seems there had been a report of a wild goose running amok a short distance away and Officer Trapman was required to join the chase.

I stood stunned as he walked back to his large truck, climbed in, and drove back out the twisting Shockpocket Estate drive waving and shouting cheerio as he rumbled away in a cloud of dust.

Tweak shouted back, “Toodleloo!” then giggled and spun in the driveway and yelped for me to follow her to the lab where she would tell me all about her secret plan.

It turned out that Tweak was always a little worried about the landing part of the bunny flight plan but had not told me, so as not to hurt my feelings.

So, without my knowing, Tweak had formulated a back-up plan. First, she calculated the trajectory of the bunny flights, of course compensating for variable rabbit weight, in-flight meal weight (one carrot), and the ever-complicated RED factor, or wind resistance due to Rabbit-Ear-Drag.

After calculating the landing locations of the rabbits, Tweak secretly stretched large nets in all of the potential reentry spots and then crossed her fingers and hoped for the best.

It turned out that all of the rabbits had landed precisely in the nets and then had easily hopped off and taken up their new lives well off our estate.

And one other thing. Tweak did not want the rabbits to end up on estates where the landlords may not be as humane as us, so she set up all of the flight paths to land in a large field of clover on local public lands. Now the bunnies can be enjoyed by all of the children playing out on the velvet green.

After Officer Trapman left today, Tweak and I decided that we’ll create a business dedicated to humane animal relocation. We’ll call it Shockpockets’ Humane Aerial Relocation Enterprises, or S.H.A.R.E. and we’ll use catapults to relocate all manner of endangered or nuisance animals. I must confess, however, that the giraffes will be a bit of a challenge. Not very aerodynamic, you see.