By Gerald Malcolm Durrell
An enthralling account of Gerald Durrell’s first task as a pupil keeper in Whipsnade Park in 1945.
Gerald Durrell used to be certainly one of Britain’s best-loved naturalists, whose books, together with My relations and different Animals, proceed to entertain and amuse generations of kids and adults alike. Fifteen of his vintage titles have now been republished through Bello.
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Certainly, Nan and Jill had no chance of playing Albert false, since they were locked in the cage with him. But I do feel that Albert would have been a strict husband, and I should hate to have been his wife if I had been flirting with a Pard and he had caught me. Why visitors looked furtively at each other and giggled when Albert performed an act of procreation, with great dignity and complete lack of embarrassment, in the middle of a clearing was a source of bewilderment to me. They would have been doubly disgusted if they had known that it was his daughter, Jill, who was participating in the orgy.
However, I was more than compensated for this by the magnificent sounds he would produce when I could hear, but not see, him. He always seemed to choose the late afternoon to burst into song. He would start, quite suddenly, with two or three preliminary ‘Aroom’ noises, with long pauses in between, as if he were making sure of the right note. Then he would launch into the full song: the ‘Arooms’ would become throaty and rich and the pause between each shorter and shorter, until they ran together in a terrific crescendo of sound.
There’s just one more thing,’ I said. ’ she inquired. ‘Well . . well, what do I have to pay you a week? ’ ‘Now,’ she said, wagging a finger at me sternly, ‘I don’t want to rob you. I know what sort of salary you’re going to get and I don’t want to rob you at all. ’ I asked hopefully, thinking to myself that this would leave me one pound ten to buy cigarettes and other essentials of life with. ’ she said, shocked. ‘Two pounds? That’s far too much. ’ ‘But all the food and stuff to buy,’ I said.
Beasts in my Belfry by Gerald Malcolm Durrell