The super soaraway Dabbler is rapidly proving to be the one thing (apart from Hooting Yard of course… so make that one of the two things) that justifies the very existence of het internet, so it pains me to have to chuck a brickbat, but chuck a brickbat I must. Quite frankly, it passeth all understanding that a postage with the promising title Important monkey / flying squirrel insight news signally fails to mention Dobson’s ground-breaking pamphlet A Detailed Account Of How I Provided Emergency Medical Assistance, Despite Having Not A Jot Of Training, To A Flying Squirrel Exhausted And Maimed After Being Pursued And Attacked By A Small Tough-Guy Japanese Macaque Monkey Which Mistook It For A Predatory Bird, With Several Diagrams And An Afterword Quoting A Jethro Tull Song Lyric (out of print).
We tend not to think of the great pamphleteer as the sort of chap to dispense succour to small wounded animals. After all, he was much more likely to throw pebbles at swans, or to rain imprecations down upon puppies. But painstaking research has shown that the “detailed account” he gives is absolutely factual. What happened was that Dobson took a detour through a monkey and squirrel sanctuary while on his way home from a visit to Hubermann’s, that most gorgeous of department stores, where he had bought a large supply of bandages and liniment. His purchases were made with a distinct purpose, for sloshing around in his head was the idea of writing a pamphlet about bandages and liniment as part of a projected series with the collective title Various Things You Can Smear On Wounds And Various Methods Of Protecting Wounds From The Elements. According to his notes, there were to be at least twelve pamphlets in the series, but not a single one was ever written, possibly because of the turn of events in the monkey and squirrel sanctuary.
Close to the perimeter fence, Dobson chanced upon a mewling and maimed flying squirrel, and saw a small Japanese macaque monkey scampering away with squirrel blood dripping from its gob. The pamphleteer put two and two together. Then, quite out of character, he knelt down, applied liniment to the gashes on the flying squirrel, and enwrapped it in bandages. He had a mind to take it home to Marigold Chew, as a prospective pet to replace her recently deceased weasel. Alas, so thoroughly did Dobson apply the bandages that the flying squirrel was suffocated.
The pamphleteer chose a spot close to the Blister Lane Bypass and buried the flying squirrel in a shallow grave. Every day, for weeks afterwards, he visited to place a sprig of dahlias or lupins on the plot, and he wept. He never told Marigold Chew what he had done, and it seems that she never got round to reading the pamphlet, one of the few works of Dobson to be commercially printed rather than typeset and cranked out on Marigold Chew’s Gestetner machine.
The quotation from Jethro Tull which appears on the last page of the pamphlet, by the way, is “So! Where the hell was Biggles when you needed him last Saturday?” from Thick As A Brick. Its significance to the text it accompanies has eluded every Dobsonist who has tried to winkle some meaning from it. I suppose that is one of the reasons we still read Dobson today. He continues to challenge us.