Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Sleeping beauty

The beautiful Peacock butterfly that has adopted my office as its place of hibernation woke up and enjoyed a brief flit.
    I last saw the butterfly sat next to my phone. It was probably making a long distance call to one of its cousins, as the photo shows. My next phone bill will be sky high, I expect.
   For a couple of days, the cute little creature had seemed content to hang out in the shoe box butterfly hut I'd built for it. I'd filled the box with grass, earth and leaves to provide the new tenant with more familiar furniture.
It shuffled and then settled.
Wings closed. 
   Yesterday morning, out of the blue, it flew out of the box and fluttered eagerly onto the window, displaying its glorious upper wings. 
Outside snow flurried in the freezing air. 
Surely, it'd soon be 'Hovis' * if I let it out?
Panicked, I rang the London Butterfly Centre 
at Syon Park in west London. 

"Nah, mate,  that place closed down two years ago," said some geez. 
"It's flown to Lincolnshire. Syonara. Let me see, if I can find the new number?"
Meanwhile, the butterfly settled down by the phone keypad as if it knew what number to dial.

"Hello, Butterfly and Wildlife Park, one moment please...Can I help you?"
- "I've got a Peacock butterfly and it looks stressed out."
"No, don't worry, they do that, stretch their wings and then find somewhere to rest again," said Ann of the Butterflies.
- "Do I need to feed it?"
"No, it will feed on the skin mites in the air in your house."
- "How can I tell if it's male or female?"
"You can't. Butterflies are androgynous."
- So I could call it Bobbie or Billie then?"
"If you want." 
- "Like Billie Jean King, the tennis player." 
"No, call it Chris."
- "Why Chris?"
" Chrysalis. Look, must fly. Good luck. Bye."

I placed a magnifying glass in front of the Peacock's face. 
Magnified, a butterfly looks fierce. Scary even, especially as I now know it's some kind of hibernating, gender bending cannibal wielding a tennis racket. (Click on the image to enlarge, if you dare!)

I gazed at the still falling snow outside.
Perhaps I should try to get out more too, I thought.
I looked down at the phone but the butterfly had vanished.

* 'Hovis' = Hovis, the manufacturers of 'brown bread', that rhymes with 'dead' in Cockney rhyming slang. 

The Butterfly & Wildlife Park is open over half-term. It's based at Long Sutton, near Spalding in Lincolnshire in eastern England. 
Tel: + 44 (0)1406 363833

Paul Coleman, London, February 2010.

1 comment:

BuckshotLefonque said...

Maybe it's Martina Navratilova instead? I.e. a gender-bending, tennis racket wielding cannibal that has come in from the cold by defecting from the Eastern Block?

Just a thought.