(Not) Sleeping with wild animals

Stuffed fox in a caseI must have seemed an awkward and stubborn child.

On our summer holidays in Dinas I was lucky to have a  bedroom to myself. The sunny room was quite delightful and I slept on a feather bed that I knew was like floating on clouds. But there was a problem with the wild animals that were part of the furniture; I refused to sleep with them in the room. I can’t remember the exact reason. I don’t think I found them frightening but I didn’t like them there.

There were more dead animals on the landing just outside my bedroom.  I remember paying them closer attention and admiring their colours but wondering whether the plants and the rocks looked quite right and whether the sky was not rather too blue.

stuffed pheasants in a caseSo when we arrived for our Dinas summers, there was some heavy lifting and careful manoeuvring of these large glass cases before I could be persuaded to go to bed.

It never occurred to me to admire the art of the taxidermists, nor to speculate on the story of the animals and how they came to end up on display in my great-aunt’s house in Dinas. I have now learned, however, that there were two taxidermists working in West Wales, whose work is still much prized: James Hutchings of Aberystwyth, whose family business was established in 1860 and continued for seventy years and Thomas Jefferies of Camarthen whose family business also closed in the 1930s. I don’t know who stuffed the animals that I banished from my bedroom. The quality of the glass cases is probably the best indicator of  their provenance but, to be honest, I find these items of only historical interest and still find them rather creepy.

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About bookvolunteer

I'm passionate about books, about Oxfam and about making the world a better place. When I'm not filling the shelves in Oxfam Wilmslow, I might be found reading the books I've bought in the beautiful surroundings of North Pembrokeshire.
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