Monday, 23 May 2011

The Hamster Has Risen.

I was thumbing through some moments in my life I had written down - I came across this one which I had almost completely forgotten about...

Apart from fish, it was my six year old daughter Nicola's first ever pet; a brown and white hamster which she uniquely named -'Hammy'.
'Hmmm', I suggested 'Sure you don't want a cool name like Hamish the Hamfisted?' My attempt to influence her failed miserably as she looked up and said,
'No Dad, it's Hammy.'
We didn't have a proper cage, so I cleaned out the goldfish tank (The fish had died when she fed them Cornflakes and felt tip pens - it was three days before I noticed) and gave her the talk on  'duty of care'.

We couldn't have a dog as we lived in a block of tenement flats with very little greenery or space for such an animal. A Hamster seemed the perfect compromise. And so she was charged with the responsibility of caring for an animal.
Three weeks later, much to my annoyance, Hammy was dead. Perfectly stiff, legs pointing perfectly heavenward, perfectly dead. I cursed myself for not having taken closer notice of him.
'I see he didn't have much in the way of water Nicola' I pointed out while examining the scene like a forensic scientist looking for clues.
'He didn't like water Dad'
'Oh really, what did he like?'
'Coke eh? Is that with a straw or straight from the glass?'
'Don't be silly Dad, from the glass.' After rebuking me she asked, 'Will he go to heaven today?'
There are times as a parent when you inadvertently put your foot in it, times when you should just keep your mouth shut, had I made the connection between six years old, 'heaven', as well as 'today', alarm bells would have been ringing...but I saw the chasm and jumped headlong into it... 
'Of course he'll go to heaven, he'll go this very day, I'll send him there.'

And so I briefly explained the way of all things as I turned the last little mound of earth over Hammy in our tiny back garden. 'Rest in Peace Hammy' I offered, with all the solemnity of saying farewell to a dear friend.
'He's still there' She said, pointing. 'He hasn't gone to heaven'. Then the tears.

I tried, believe you me I tried everything, I used theology, theosophy, philosophy and even the heart wrenching scenes from Bambi in a bid to explain things, but she was having none of it - Hammy was still under the ground, still dead, not in heaven. I had to think of something else - and fast.

I have a small sleight of hand trick I play with my kids...I can move something from one hand to the other quicker than the eye can see, and in a bid to ease her distress I resolved to dig him up once more, and that I would 'throw' Hammy to heaven. With a little bit of improvisation my sleight of hand should have been able to carry it off.

Encased in his little coffin of an inner tube from a toilet roll, I dug him back out with a spoon. She had been right of course, he was still there, still dead, not in heaven. Unseen by her I had loosened my shirt cuff and prepared my sleeve to receive Hammy during my sleight of hand. 
Holding him out in his little coffin I said something like 'Oh God we commend this little hamster into your care' and swung my arm heavenward and whilst doing so, tipped the inner tube of the toilet roll toward my sleeve to allow Hammy to slide in there.. At that very instant I realised Hammie had shot out of the tube on the upswing and really was making his way heavenward. She watched as he flew and rose...before tumbling back down at our feet with a thump. More tears.
Faced with such spectacular failure I thought of the only thing I could - 'I forgot to ask God to open the door Nicola...Sorry darlin'...silly Daddy' I said, picking him up ready to try once more. 
'We commend wee Hammy unto you God so OPEN THE DOOR!' I yelled, and once more went through the routine. This time I was going to put the entire roll in my sleeve and I felt the roll slip inside - only this time I glanced quickly to check Hammy was safely tucked up inside - he wasn't there. But he wasn't flying through the air either? 
'Yeah you did it Dad! You did it!' She yelled as I stood there wondering where the hell he was. 'You really did it Dad!'

It was a moment I'll never forget - the day I really did send a hamster to heaven, I'd reached out my arm to God and God had quickly slipped his hand down to mine and snatched wee Hammy upward. I felt so pleased with myself I thought about a treat...'C'mon Nicola, let's go inside, Ice cream all round I think.'

A few months later I had a little party and invited the neighbours so as to properly introduce myself. Pouring the elderly man who lived directly above me a drink, he rather fished around for something to say. Eventually he found the words - 'You ever have any trouble with Hamsters down here?' He asked.
'Hamsters? Trouble?...What kind of trouble?' I was genuinely surprised.
'You know anything about them?' he asked in hushed tones.
'Not a lot.'
Dimming his eyelids he scrunched up his face and said 'They can fly you know.'
Almost overfilling his glass I gasped 'What?'
'They can fly you know. Just a few months back I had my bedroom window open and one of the little buggers came flying in - landed on my bed...I killed it with a lamp-stand.'

Poor Hammy, I hope when I get there, he'll forgive me.


  1. You are a VERY caring dad and, might I add, have an amazing way with storytelling. LOL! ;D

  2. I suppose it's part of parenting that the reality that dead is dead and that's as far as anything goes has to be concealed - probably something biological going on there - but had to giggle at your persistence in the cause. And maybe you'll be able to claim responsibility for the birth of yet another myth for Dawkins to fight once he's killed off God! Alec :)

  3. Going to tell my kids this one when they come to dinner tonight :-) Your stories are great! (blowing gales and hail here on the West Coast of Scotia... ah, to be in the land of Oz...)

  4. LOL Alec - Your comment on Dawkins killing off God, reminds of when I was at University. The Religious dept and the History dept were on opposite sides of the same corridor. One (presumably atheist) historian had a printed poster on his door for all to see - it read;

    "God is Dead" - Nietzsche (1882)

    And directly opposite, a religious lecturer had a poster on their door;

    "Neitzsche is Dead" - God (1900)



  5. Crea8tivesoul - that's very kind of you - thank you. I'm really enjoying this blog lol - I had no idea it would be this much fun!

  6. JOROSS - Thank you - You're too kind :)

  7. Annie - What I wouldn't give to be in a gale on the west coast of Scotland right now :) I went back for the first time in 5 years last summer to Drumchapel - and after spending a lifetime cursing the place, I had to be wrenched away, I loved it so much.

  8. Probably not a nice thing to be laughing at flying dead hamsters, but I was :D

  9. I wouldn't have been too keen on a dead hampster sliding down my sleeve anyway. It all worked out in the end.

  10. I know what you mean Kyna.

    I was thinking about it as I was posting it up and an odd thought struck me. There were 36,000 people crammed into the housing estate we lived in - and just about every kid had a hamster at some time. Most of them ended up being buried in backyards. 10,000 years from now archaeologists are going to dig up the area and be convinced that hamsters were native to the area and lived underground in cardboard tubes...

  11. Annie - I tuned in to the Scottish Cup Final in Glasgow on Sunday, and sat up to the wee hours here following the action. It's winter here and a wee bit chilly but that just means sitting with two t-shirts on - rather than thermal undies and a hot water bottle. The commentator was describing the pouring rain in Glasgow, the mud, the 'dreich', the abysmal conditions...and at that moment there was nowhere on earth I wanted to be more than Glasgow.

  12. Sorry - I meant Saturday - It was Sunday here lol - dang that confuses me everytime.

  13. Yes, I watched it too. Fortunately, the Celts were playing Motherwell and so I felt ok in cheering them on. When they play Rangers it can be a bit confusing... my Da kicks wae his right foot and my Maw kicks with her left :-)

    We really are getting some seriously severe gails here... my wheelie bin just got blown away. Somethin' to do with the jet stream???

  14. Oops, I meant 'gales'. Although I do know some seriously severe Gails too ;-)

  15. LOL I kick with my belly - been a Partick Thistle supporter since I was ten :)

  16. I'd just read about the Gales on BBC Scotland - some strong stuff there! My Sister in Law from Australia is in Dunfermline just now - she'll be home here in a couple of days - no doubt she'll tell me all about it - looks pretty fierce (The Gales, not my sister in Law).

  17. Ah, Bellyball... hope it doesn't hurt too much :-)

  18. It is pretty bad, especially for May. I was going to go doon the braes to take some pictures of the Mayflower, but I'd probably be blown away (by the wind, not the scenery). The blossom will probably all be gone by tomorrow and I'll have to wait til next year :-(

  19. HI found you via that pic of little hammie was so damn cute little did I know he was dead..yikes...loved yu story very funny..yer a v.good writer. I’m following you.

  20. Thank you Beatnheart - I can assure you that apart from Hammy and the Fish no animals were hurt or injured in the production of this blog post. Even the picture of the Hamster above is a real, fortunately live Hamster, and not the deceased. You can find everything on the internet and when I googled 'Hamster Toilet Roll' hey presto up this one came so I used it to illustrate the story lol.

    Thank you for your kind words and I'm now off to read your blog!

    Take care!


  21. Volcanic ash has swept over from Iceland - again! Hope it doesn't affect your sister-in-laws flight back home...

  22. guy is pretty cool kkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk laughs rsrsrsrsrsrsrs is very cute lol