somewhat less annoying material

We went out onto Coe Fen, which is quite the loveliest part of Cambridge we’ve found so far, all birdsong and head-high wildflowers and fragrance. I ambled on as Claire and Julia, exploring in the verge, found a roly-poly, what I’d call a slater. Wikipedia calls it a woodlouse. Jeremy loaded it onto a piece of grass to bring it with us. The girls ran ahead, as its heralds.

When they caught up with me, the roly-poly was gone.

Claire collapsed with grief. She could not contain her sobbing. Julia stood stony-faced and sorrowful nearby; she could not be comforted. Jeremy was mostly amused but I remember what it was like to be that little and lose something you care about. I sat on the fen with Claire and told her about Sugar, my dog. I recited Sugar’s elegy and improvised one for the roly-poly:

We had a roly-poly,
he was on a piece of grass.
When we turned to look
he was gone, alas!
Roly-poly how we miss you.
When we see you next, we’ll kiss you.
Roly-poly we love you.
We would not make you into stew.

Claire’s weeping abated a little. I said: “There’s a cafe at the Fitzwilliam Museum. Shall we go and have hot chocolate? I think it’s what roly-poly would have wanted.” Jeremy snorted and I kicked him.

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