It was Friday; and out on the council estate
stood Bill Stumpy, with someone who wore a cloth cap.
Foreman Freddie was fretting that work had run late,
but he had to give way to this union chap.
“Well, it has to be said,” said Jim Giles, “I can’t see
what a hedgehog can want with a union pass;
and I don’t know they’ll ever be like you and me,
but a picket line’s sacred; I’ll not cross that grass.
And nor neither will Freddie, until all agree
that the union these little hedgehogs have formed
is invalid in sight of the great T.U.C.
So until they advise me, I’m not having stormed
any buildings they’ve taken to picketing. Still,
if the worst that it means is days off for the men,
I can’t see an objection. Get on as you will,
but I’m not going to say any more to this wren.”
(Jenny Wren had come round with a pen in her beak
to takes notes for the hedgehogs as union rep;
she had promised to honour their cause for a week,
and was learning her duties each day, step by step.)
“Then I’ll see thee on Tuesday,” said Freddie. “Because
with bank holiday Monday, no work shall be done.
By that time maybes someone can sort out the laws,
I’ve no doubt that the Council are sure to have won.”
Then he left in a huff. He was proud of his work;
for the Luftwaffe’s bombs hadn’t wrecked quite as many
old homes as Fred’s gang. Stumpy stifled a smirk,
and went off to the house through the picket with Jenny.
“I’m here for the Badger,” he called through the door,
“I’m a friend of old Heron, and Whiskers. I’ve come
to examine your progress, and then what is more,
see if help can be given in fixing this slum.”
The Badger was cautious; he opened the door
just a crack, and then seeing the man in the suit
he invited him in, taking care that the floor
was allowed to set hard without prints from his boot.
“It’s like this,” declared Stumpy. “We’ve plenty of friends
who are just as concerned about animal rights;
but we need an excuse that exceeds and transcends
what the courts can allow, to be winning our fights.
I can see you’ve got plenty of tools and supplies,
and a whole load of work to be doing, what’s more;
but we need this place built to sensationalise
any council inspectors who call at the door.”
“Well, I’m trying,” sighed Badger. “Send help with a will.
Just by when does the Mongoose require that it’s done?”
“I think Tuesday is all we can manage,” said Bill,
“if a case in the courts can expect to be won.”
“Then it’s hopeless,” said Badger. “Now, now,” said his friend;
“Mister Whiskers can send you more help than can tell.
There’s a dozen swift weasels alone he could send
who are good with a paint brush - and others as well.”
“If the Mongoose is willing,” said Badger, “I’m in.
But they’ll have to agree to take orders and keep
to the plans, for the stuff that we’ve got here within
isn’t suited to doing the job on the cheap.”
So they rang up the Mongoose, and all was agreed.
Any help Mister Whiskers could send that existed
was welcome, but subject to Badger’s one creed:
“I’m having no foxes,” he firmly insisted.