It was – once – well known that a small woodland mammal was a necessary addition to any young person’s night out in some of the more remote rural areas of the UK. Any young lady out for a night on the village without her own weasel was regarded as someone suspicious (or as in some parts of Gloucestershire – a witch) and a young lad without a badger would – more often than not – refuse to go out of an evening – which, of course, led to the invention of the home computer; without which such cultural high-spots as Manic Miner, Elite, Lemmings and Populous would be unknown.
However, in the more urban areas of Britain such things never really caught on, especially with the general paucity of wildlife in built up areas and the lack of any real understanding of woodland lore, which would have made – for example – the provision of a squirrel to one’s paramour somewhat problematical, especially if the squirrel hunt was undertaken partway through a night out – as was the original countryside custom. The urban night would then have resounded with the sound of inebriated young men falling out of trees all across the country, not really the ideal background ambience for a night of romance under the stars.
However, once the mobile phone was invented there was little call for taking woodland mammals on an evening out, especially when very few of those aforementioned calls would be for the woodland mammal itself and thus made transporting the mammals more of an encumbrance than a way to inveigle oneself into the affections of any putative paramour.
Some people would – of course – call it progress, and despite the manifold advantages of the mobile phone over a (sometimes very) wild animal about one’s person in the evening’s hostelries, some of us cannot help but believe that some of the romance of a night out has been lost, perhaps never to return.