Macavity’s a Mystery Cat: he’s called the Hidden Paw–
For he’s the master criminal who can defy the Law.
He’s the bafflement of Scotland Yard, the Flying Squad’s despair:
For when they reach the scene of crime–Macavity’s not there!

When I was a child of 6 or 7, it was quite common for us to recite poetry as a class. Some of our favourite poems, were those by TS Elliot (Skimbleshanks the Railway Cat is imprinted indellibly on my mind, with it’s delightful railway rhythms) but I think our favourite as a class was Macavity the Mystery Cat.

Macavity is all about the “naughty” cat who is behind all the trouble, but never there to take the blame. What child could fail to relate to the impudence of him?

He’s outwardly respectable. (They say he cheats at cards.)
And his footprints are not found in any file of Scotland Yard’s.
And when the larder’s looted, or the jewel-case is rifled,
Or when the milk is missing, or another Peke’s been stifled,
Or the greenhouse glass is broken, and the trellis past repair–
Ay, there’s the wonder of the thing! Macavity’s not there!

The words of this poem were circling like vultures in my mind this afternoon. The apprentice and I spent a very productive afternoon working on the balcony project. While we were working potting up plants, and moving pots around to make the most of the sun I, once again, found evidence of snail damage to some of our plants. Fortunately, the runner beans are now up and beyond all but the most athletic of snails, but the snail appeared to have tried a tomato (and obviously didn’t like it very much) and one or two other plants had been sampled. This, quite naturally, led to another great snail hunt.

But………….Macavity WASN’T THERE 😀

We moved pots, we looked behind pots, we looked under pots, we looked IN pots under the leaves of the plants, we looked in the bag of compost, we looked in the guttering both down from the roof, and down to the ground. Macavity the snail just wasn’t there.

Eventually I found him by sheer luck. As I moved a large pot back into place, I found him hiding under the rim of the pot!! And once we knew where to look, we found several more.

Having evicted them from their cozy nooks, I now feel secure in the knowledge that my plants are safe for a few more days – that is until another brave soul scales the wall from the ground to our balcony. What will it be next? Are the snails massing, even as I type, below the balcony for a “forlorn hope” style attack? Or will it be a lone wolf snail – scouting our defences for the rest? 🙂