Friday, August 31, 2007

Three batty true stories


When I was a postgraduate at Bristol, we had a Geology 'staff' cricket team which would play most weeks on the plastic pitch at the university's sportsground. I was batting in one match and the ball sat up nicely for a pull or hook. But I mistimed it and the ball flew off my top edge right into the middle of my forehead, temporarily stunning me. The batsman at the other end (Martin Palmer as I recall) had the audacity to bully me up from my collapsed position to stagger for a single and the further cheek to get me back for a second!! My head swelled up nicely but symmetrically and throbbed for a long while. Cricket balls are hard.


When I was 15, I went in the summer to the Dordogne to stay with Uncle Peter, Auntie Solange and my cousins at Solange's mother's house. I shared a room with my 17-year-old cousin David and one morning we found a small bat roosting in the shutters of our room's French windows. David wanted a closer look, so he gently picked up the sleeping bat and took it into the room and hung it on a lampshade. After a couple of minutes the bat woke up and started flying around the room.

Now, I always thought that bats had wonderful navigation systems based on foolproof sonar. This bat clearly hadn't read that book, and flew straight into the nearest wall. It crashed to the ground, but managed to take off. We tried to shoo it toward the open windows, but instead it just flew around the room crashing into walls with alarming regularity. It once more fell to the floor, but we lost where it was.

We searched around a bit, then I saw it flying just above the floor. David stepped back and, by horrible timing, the bat flew right under his heel as he trod on the ground. There was an extremely unpleasant squidging sound as the bat was flattened by his weight.

Almost immediately there was a deafening explosive 'kaboom!!' It was a nearby jet's supersonic boom, but it really felt like God's condemning wrath.


With my family away, I faffed around at work this evening, leaving at 8 o'clock, when it was getting distinctly dark. I took my usual cycle route home, though, despite my lack of lights. I apologised to a family (with head torches) walking through Lynch Wood as I passed them and cycled through dense swarms of insects. One or two large bats could be seen flitting, through gaps in the trees.

I picked up pace after I passed the family and was travelling at speed along the clear path when I saw what appeared in the half light to be a big bat flying at head height straight towards me. Before I could do anything, it flew straight into me, whacking me blunt head-on, smack between the eyes!

I can still feel the bruising and slight swelling as I write this - it was not unlike being whacked by a cricket ball.


pluvialis said...

Awesome post. Weedon: nemesis of the bat!

I trod on one of my own pet home-bred Chinese Painted Quail when I was a kid. The crunch still haunts me. Absolutely traumatic event.

Brian said...

Told Karen this tale. She said 'how was the bat'! ;)