THE LION, THE TWITCH AND THE MONDEO by Saul Riggot.
Saul Riggot was born in 1957 to a family of circus acrobats, at 15 he ran away to join a firm of accountants. He is the author of a seminal [ & now tragically out of print] text on double entry book keeping. He enjoys morse code, campanology and bee keeping.
Enjoy his story.
“Sodding Lions of sodding Longleat.” Ron muttered under his
breath as he stared out of the windscreen, eye-ball to eye-ball with
a very, very large lion.
“Do something Ron!”
“ What do you suggest I do Barbara?”
“Shoo it away or something…”
“Go on Daddy, that man on telly did it by just flapping his shirt at
it and shouting.” advised Abigail.
“You’ll do no such thing that shirt’s almost new, I only ironed it
this morning.” said Barbara.
Ron just sat there, his pride and joy was being slowly destroyed. He
knew what was coming, any kind of stress and the twitch would
begin. It started with the zigzag vein on his left temple beginning to
visibly throb. He gripped the leather trimmed steering wheel with its
red contrast stitching, matching the leather trimmed gear knob.
“Look daddy he ‘s playing with the windscreen wipers.”
“Be quiet Abigail and look after your little brother,” said her mum.
Christopher was in a little ball, sobbing into his Action Man’s face,
while Abigail pulled the string that operated his eagle-eyes feature.
I paid extra for those wipers with a special rust protection alloy and
precision heated washer jets remembered Ron, whose twitch was
now in full swing. His head turning to one side and his eyebrows
shooting up and down.
“Daddy’s doing that thing again mummy.”
“Be quiet Abigail, and look after Chris.”
The string that operated the Action Man’s eyes had now snapped
and gave the toy a furtive look as they were stuck looking
permanently to the left. Abigail stuffed the broken string down the
side of the upholstery and tentatively held her brother’s hand.
“ Where are those park rangers Ron can you see them? And pull
yourself together you’re upsetting the kids – we’re safe in here.”
Yes, thought Ron but out there the lions had scratched the Midnight
Blue paintjob to buggery – and the door mirrors. They were
eclectically operated and heated with a black housing and body
coloured scull cap, and now lay either side of the Mondeo in several
bits. Ron opened the glove box and took out the manual as it
released that new-car smell again. Ahh he thought as his eyes
alighted on what he was looking for. IPS Features and Tips, the so
called Intelligent Protection System, try as he might, he could see
nothing to protect it from lion attack – he’d have a word with the
Ford Motor Company about that – it could be another one of their
special add-on features, at an extra cost of course.
A second lion joined the party and went onto the roof.
“Not another bloody lion, ”said Ron.
‘It’s not a lion daddy it’s a lioness; it’s probably its mate. They
mate for life you know, just like you and mum,” said Abigail.
The lioness stared though the sunroof, fogging the glass with her
breath. Barbara was silent, suddenly depressed at the thought of
mating for life with Ron. She looked over at her twitching husband
and was almost tempted to step out of the car and be eaten alive
by the lions. She imagined the headlines in the Lincolnshire Echo.
LOCOL ROTARIAN EATEN ALIVE BY LIONS – Leaves a twitching
husband and two children. As the glass in the sunroof cleared, she
stared into the eyes of the lioness looking down and thought she
saw the look of a kindred spirit in the big cat’s face, then the glass
“Do you think I should sound the horn again Barbara?”
“No, they said not to keep pressing it, just sound it once for five
seconds. We’ve done that, we don’t want to annoy them, or they
might leave us here longer – that skinny guy looked a real job’s
The slow moving crocodile of cars snaked around them,
momentarily slowing as if they were an attraction. Kids were
plastered against the windows of the passing cars, laughing and
pointing as Ron’s stricken Mondeo sat wounded at the side of the
road and staring as Barbara’s mate for life twitched behind the
wheel, and a little girl in pigtails stuck her tongue out at them.
Ron looked in the rear-view mirror to see if the rangers were
approaching – all he saw was the sticker in his window, PLEASE
DRIVE CAREFULLY – PRINCESS ON BOARD.