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You won't believe what happened on the way to work...

By Ken Oxley on Aug 2, 07 03:00 PM

I've had some interesting excuses for turning up late for work over the years, but this week I topped them all. I had to bury a hedgehog. Beat that, if you can.

We had rescued him a couple of days earlier, although I use the term 'rescued' lightly. What we in all probability did was simply delay Sonic's impending death.

Sonic wasn't my choice of name, by the way. It was suggested by my 17-year-old son Joe.

Older son Sam, 19, mumbled something (he always mumbles) about how it was a rubbish name. It was like calling a cat Tiddles or a dog Rex, he said. Soooo unoriginal.

Actually, it was more like calling a cat Felix or a dog Scooby-Doo, but I let it go. My wife, playing the feminist card, chipped in with Sheila.

Since we were all incapable of determining our spikey friend's gender, why had we assumed it was male? We're all so sexist, she told us. The boys looked at me.

I looked at the boys. Sheila The Hedgehog? Don't be stupid, we told her.

We'd almost ran Sonic over just outside our house. I got out the car to move him along, but instead of scampering away or curling up into a tight ball like most hedgehogs do, he just looked up at me listlessly.

Over the next couple of days he became a house guest of sorts. I surfed the net for tips on how to feed him and spoke to a nice lady from the Hedgehog Preservation Society.

She suggested sloppy Weetabix with grated cheese on top. It sounded disgusting but Sonic, in a departure from his normal diet of slugs, earwigs and the like, seemed to enjoy it.

We were hopeful he was on the mend and - on his second night at Chez Oxley - we tucked him up for the night with a hot water bottle and a small plate of cooked chicken. . .as suggested by the Hedgehog lovers' website.

We awoke the following morning expecting to find a reinvigorated little creature. Instead, we found a stiff.

As we slept, our nocturnal guest hadn't sprung back to life thanks to our TLC.

There was no Sonic boom - just, presumably, a faint wimper and a final few shallow breaths.

He was as rigid as a board by 7am - like one of those wooden hedgehogs you see at garden centres for wiping muddy feet on. I let the thought go. Besides, he'd start to smell soon.

So I buried him in the garden, under the large tree that blocks my satellite signal. Now, whenever the picture on my TV freezes or breaks up, I'll stay calm and think happy thoughts of Sonic. . .

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