I had almost forgotten about newts until last week, when I replied to a comment on my blog about being a bit odd as a child. After I’d confessed to breeding newts in washing up bowls, I thought oh yeah, remember newts.
On Thursday, after I’d finished writing about our street being a bit of a hole, a beautiful newt came to visit. I went to let the cat in and there it was, frozen under the beam of the security light. Either it was a (somehow unscathed) present from Monty, or he hadn’t noticed it standing next to him. However it came to be in our yard, there it was with an inane smile in its face, (sort of) saying “Hello. It ain’t that bad round here, you know.”
I tweeted about it, I texted a few people, then I rang my mum and asked her what to do with it.
“What do you think this is? The National Newt Helpline? I’m trying to watch Corrie,” she said.
Even though I knew I should leave him to his own devices and let him find his way back to wherever he had come from, I knew that Tom would really love to see him.
Next thing, I was heating the tip of a knife on the hob and stabbing it through the lid of a Quality Street jar. Wikipedia said it was a smooth newt; not the great crested, endangered kind but still pretty impressive for our A3 piece of concrete. It was gorgeous, with a bright orange tummy and a paddle tail. I watched it swimming round for a bit, arms and legs splayed, then realised it needed somewhere to rest. If it had to doggy (newty?) paddle all night, it could get tired and drown.
It was getting late. The only heavy object I could find was a statue of Aphrodite; a souvenir from Cyprus that was poking out of a charity shop bag. I plonked her in the Quality Street jar and the newt embraced her straight away.
In the morning, it was still alive, still clutching Aphrodite, still looking a bit shocked.
“Finish that quick, I’ve got something special to show you,” I said when I gave Tom his Rice Crispies.
“OK I’m full now,” he said, after one spoonful.
When he had really finished, we went outside. He gasped and chuckled when he saw it
“He’s like a cross between a lizard and a frog! Fancy putting him in a Quality Street jar with a statue, Mum.”
“Well, I wanted you to meet him.”
I really hope that the day a newt came to our yard ends up being one of those vivid memories that never shift.
“Can we keep it?”
“No. It’s spring – it needs to go and make some baby newts. And Monty would kill it and I haven’t got anything I got anything to feed it and it’s probably hungry now so let’s let it go.”.
And off it slithered, into the long grass at the edge of the cobbles behind our little house.
“Bye newt, nice to meet yer!”