The Garden Shed Pet

When I was young I had a pet tortoise.

We called him Roger, after the athlete Roger Bannister, who had been the first person to run a mile in under four minutes.

Roger was very sprightly for a tortoise. So sprightly, in fact, that he ran away.

Lost without my pet tortoise (and Roger presumably lost without me) I adopted another pet that I’d found in the garden shed.

Forty years later I wrote these poems for the children in Mrs Andrew’s class at Bromet Junior School.

The Garden Shed Pet

When I was eight years old

my tortoise ran away

So I found a pet snail

and kept him in a jam jar

in the garden shed

Every night he’d make his escape

leaving a glistening trail

for me to follow

down the garden path

In the morning I would find him

hiding in the rockery

At least I think it was him

You can never be sure with snails.

The Race

We’d put them on an old tin lid

and line them up on the racing track

Ready! Steady!  Go!

Then watch them inch their way along

slithering, slimy, slowly

their tiny antlers pointing the way

Come on! Hurry up! We’d shout

but nothing we said

made them move any faster

My one always seemed to lose

But then

when you’re racing snails

It’s hard to find a winner.

No photos of Roger the runaway tortoise, alas, but here’s a link to that historic run:

© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems

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