Will Work for Nuts by Matthew Cole
|Will Work for Nuts by Matthew Cole|
|Genre: Animals and Wildlife|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: Train squirrels, foxes, birds and more to entertain you. This book might similarly entertain, but to me it seemed a most singular hobby I won't be indulging in.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Maybe|
|Pages: 160||Date: October 2008|
The intrepid adventurer faces a most daunting challenge. Girding his loins in anticipation of achieving his goal, he leaps into action, hell-bent only on success, never fearing the inherent danger. With death-defying stunts and leaps aplenty, he needs to use any vehicles he finds in his path, untold balancing skills, nerve-racking whippy plastic stick things, and an awful lot more. Finally his lithe, muscular frame lands near his target, and he sits back and eats his nuts.
Thus the squirrel has starred in one of the most well-known and popular TV adverts ever, and it's only selling lager of all things.
This book is for those people (are there more than one of them?!) who would wish to emulate the directors, and create something similar in their own back garden for the passing squirrel. The book only seems to mention the campaign as an afterthought, while turning to the idea for the second time. Perhaps, seeing as there's a badge on the front cover here saying 'as seen on TV', there's a conflict of interests.
It's not all about getting squirrels tempted beyond sanity by man-made obstacle courses. Goldfish have memories lasting more like three months than three seconds, and so can be goaded with the usual food rewards to play football (of a kind), or if they're fond of jumping out of their own water, to high-jump across their tank. It only raises the prospect of them jumping out when your back's turned, of course, but I suppose that's the risk you must take.
Beyond that there is more animal behaviour that you can impact on in more sensible ways. You can't teach an old fox new tricks, as it seems they don't like the new, and one way of getting one living in your back garden to move on and disturb other people's bins is to just subtly interrupt his territory with a changing spread of new flim-flams. This briefest of chapters – unfortunately one of the most useful – only left me wishing for another book that would actually prove for me I did have a fox living under my shed, and what territorial traits it would follow for me to confirm this.
I'm sure there is some truth to that, however, and the piece where we are told to use garden slugs to combat our bathroom mould, but surely there comes a time when the whole ethos of borrowing / influencing / exploiting animal's endemic behaviour becomes a little unsavoury? I did actually have to try hard to find any unwanted elements to this book, but perhaps I'm just an amoral idiot.
The style of the book is quite gonzo – very slapdash, with instructions seemingly pasted on folders of work-in-progress on address labels, and very visual throughout. It's a very light read, often with more thought put to the background images than the more important contents. However, did it inspire me to partake? Well without a garden there are limited options for me to perch a mobile phone somewhere, play it hourly for a month and get the local birdlife to imitate the ringtone I've chosen for them. I don't have a month to set aside to train goldfish, either, you'll be pleased to know.
And when it comes to adapting a water-butt for use as a hide for me to then take photos of blue-tits, or organise a honeybee race, it's a bit of human behaviour I won't be emulating.
I found the whole concept too flippant, anyway – I did breathe a sigh of relief when I found it contained nothing disagreeable, but this urbanite was left with no particular admiration for the ideas herein. It's an ably produced volume, although it can bear little pictorial proof of things working – perhaps that's where the TV version comes in. For the little added effort (the fact that the nation's most popular goldfish name is Jaws, you can read the online instructions on worm-charming in Tibetan of all languages, and so on) the book is a lot more impressive than it could have been, and gets a grudging recommendation – as the biggest time-wasting novelty lifestyle concept this side of I don't know what.
We would like to thank Collins for sending the Bookbag a review copy.
If other things you really shouldn't be worried about doing are your choice of reading, firm up on more of them in Sod That!: 103 Things Not To Do Before You Die by Sam Jordison. If you're interested in training pets to do something useful - like search and rescue - then we can recommend The Kingdom of Scent by Anne Lill Kvam.
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