The scene: Wapping Rose Garden, aka ‘Squirrel Park’
The tree: Big one in the middle
The time: Present day
Two of Wapping’s finest squirrels are sitting in a tree eating nuts and discussing current affairs. While Brown Paws is a media addict Thin Tail is only interested in nut-centric issues.
“So I see the What’s in Wapping website has shut. Sad that,” said Brown Paws as he scratched at a persistent flea. Thin Tail finished a nut and dropped the empty shell onto the head of a passing dog.
“Closed down! Where are we going to find out about nut news in future?” Thin Tail exclaimed. Brown Paws nodded sagely.
“Well yes a lack of nut news is a bit of a problem but we are lucky, as we are squirrels we are only interested in nuts, but those humans relied on What’s in Wapping for all sorts of essential local information.”
Thin Tail stopped and thought about this for a moment. “You mean humans think about things other than nuts?” Brown Paws nodded again.
“Apparently so. All sorts of important stuff and the good thing about What’s in Wapping is that it covered the sorts of things that the local papers couldn’t be bothered to do. In fact I did hear a rumour that one particular local paper used to nick stories from What’s in Wapping!”
Thin Tail looked shocked.
“Steal? Stories? Were they important nut stories?”
“Not usually no,” said Brown Paws. “But you would be surprised how often What’s in Wapping would publish something or tweet it and within a few hours a very similar story would appear in this particular local paper.”
Both squirrels were fond of the local paper. It made particularly good lining for their nests.
“That’s shocking!” said Thin Tail. “If anyone tried to steal my nuts there would be trouble. Are news and features and local events like nuts? Do they taste nutty?”
Brown Paws hung upside down from the tree by his back legs, looked at his companion and smiled. Thin Tail could be very perceptive at times. When he wasn’t burying, digging up or eating nuts of course.
“Yes new and events and features are to humans what nuts are to us. Pretty essential. We don’t care about nut issues miles away; we are only interested in nut issues that affect us. Same with humans.”
Thin Tail yawned and considered going to find one of the 30,000 nuts he had buried in the last year then thought again. Someone would probably come along and give him a free one soon without him having to go and get it.
“So What’s in Wapping went and found stuff about local things and then told other humans around here about them?” asked Thin Tail.
“That’s it. Humans even call it ‘squirrelling out stuff’. I think that might be some reference to us but I have never quite worked out why though.”
For a moment both squirrels hung upside down and scratched themselves, lost in thought.
As so often it was Thin Tail who summed the situation up.
“So the person who did the What’s in Wapping website basically went round ‘squirreling’ stuff out then the gave the stuff she had found to others for free?”
Brown Paws nodded. He liked doing this when upside down.
“That my friend is exactly what happened. Free nuts all round”
“Free nuts!” exclaimed Thin Tail in wonder. “I would NEVER give free nuts to anyone! Even another squirrel!”
“Especially another squirrel,” replied Brown Paws. “Although I did lend you a nice twig for your nest last year I seem to remember”.
They were both still dreaming of piles of free nuts several minutes later when a familiar human figure walked towards their tree carrying a large bag of nuts and an even larger camera.
At this they both started running around the tree trunk in delight. But they stopped as they saw nuts – free nuts – being thrown towards them.
After checking the nut quality they both settled on a branch and began munching on their particularly fine nuts.
“These are those posh Waitrose ones!” shouted Thin Tail. Brown Paws nodded as he spat out a piece of shell.
“Another nut Thin Tail?”
“Oh I think so Brown Paws!”
For many seasons afterwards the squirrels would often wonder if the closure of the What’s in Wapping website and the significant increase in their free nut supply at exactly the same time were linked.
Sitting on a tree branch the squirrels would look down as the people of Wapping passed below and wonder where the humans would get their nuts from now?