The other day, I was walking up and down the City Road when my weasel popped. I ought to explain that I take Alan, my pet weasel, with me whenever I go trudging through the city streets. He is a well-behaved weasel and does not need to be kept on a leash. Usually, Alan will scurry just ahead of me, acting in some sorts like a seeing-eye weasel. I am myopic rather than blind, and wear spectacles with corrective lenses, so I do not actually need Alan to guide me, but I think it makes him feel useful and important to do so. Studies have shown that weasels do not generally suffer from low self-esteem – heaven forfend that they should! – and perhaps I am being indulgent in allowing Alan to think I depend on him. But that is my way.

Anyway, there we were, somewhere up or down the City Road, more or less within spitting distance of Moorfields Eye Hospital, when Alan suddenly popped, as if he were a balloon. It was a most extraordinary sight, one I won’t forget in a hurry. One minute I was sashaying along with Alan scurrying just ahead of me, on the lookout for something smaller than himself which he could rip to bloody pieces with his claws and fangs, and then pop! there was a popping sound, and all that remained of my pet weasel were a few shreds of fur and skin and bits of bone on the pavement.

Not knowing quite what to do, I spat in the direction of Moorfields Eye Hospital. I do not as a rule condone spitting in the street. It is a filthy habit practised by the lower orders and certain foreigners, one which I abhor, but the popping of Alan had left my brainpans ajangle. I had read somewhere, probably in an out of print pamphlet by Dobson, that to spit at a large and important medical institution could, in some circumstances, clear the head and help to determine a sensible course of action. How the pamphleteer dreamed up such halfwittery is beyond me. The sole result of my spitting was that I was Tasered by a passing copper.

As I sprawled, twitching and breathless, on the pavement, there came a great thunderclap. And then it began to rain, great drenching sheets pouring down from the heavens, washing away every trace of Alan that remained.

Above me, the copper was explaining that I was under arrest for antisocial behaviour (the spitting), resisting arrest (lying sprawled instead of accompanying him to the station) , and what he termed “sundry other offences” (undefined). I reflected bitterly that Alan, had he not popped, would have slashed at the copper and disfigured him, allowing me to make my getaway. But then I further reflected that I would have been a fugitive from justice, me and my weasel, forced into hiding, holed up in some weasel-friendly hotel, never more than one step ahead of the law. That was no life for a boulevardier and his pet weasel.

And then it hit me that Alan was gone, gone forever, popped!, in an instant, and I was alone. I held up my arms so the copper could cuff my wrists, and went quietly..

On City Road, in the pouring rain
Sprawled upon a paving stone
This man is solitary, all alone
And there are jangles in his brain
His weasel popped, and it was gone.
Da doo ron ron ron da doo ron ron.

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