Wednesday, 28 December 2016


When I was - oh, I dunno - around ten I suppose, me and my brother had a pet hamster called (you'll never guess) Hammy.  The name was inevitable, both of us having grown up on TALES Of The RIVERBANK, one of the WATCH WITH MOTHER TV shows for kids.  Hammy had a cage which was sometimes kept in the kitchen, sometimes in the garden cellar.  We would watch in rapt fascination as he raced 'round his wheel for what seemed an absolute age, presumably enjoying himself.  Now I realize it was probably out of frustration and because he was 'stir-crazy'.

One day, my brother announced that Hammy was dead, and with the morbid curiosity that most kids are heir to, we examined the corpse.  Poor Hammy.  We tenderly wrapped him up in a brown paper bag and gingerly laid him in the refuse bin in the back garden, then retired back to the living-room to mourn our departed pet.  But then I had a sudden brainwave.  "Maybe he's only hibernating?" I speculated, so we retrieved Hammy from the bin and laid him before the electric fire in an attempt to revive him.

Sure enough, after a while, Hammy came out of his state of suspended animation and sniffed the air.  What a narrow escape and no mistake.  I'm unsure as to  just how long Hammy was with us after his Lazarus impersonation, but one day I noticed he was missing from his cage in the cellar and a search of the confined space afforded no joy.  Perhaps a week or so later, I found him dead in our watering can (in the cellar), and even today I cringe in horror at the thought of his despair as he waited for a rescue that never came.

I think this time we buried him in the garden instead of the bin, but at least there was absolutely no doubt he was actually dead.  No consolation of course, but thankfully he was spared the awful fate of waking up as he was consigned to the grinding cogs of a bin lorry and meeting, perhaps, an even worse fate than the one which eventually claimed him.

Nearly 50 years later, I still think of Hammy on occasion, and find myself hoping he didn't suffer too much or for too long.  Any Criv-ites out there ever have a childhood pet which they still fondly remember today?  Resurrect them for a brief period by telling us all about them in the comments section.


  1. My brother and myself both had Hamsters as kids, Goldie and yep you guessed I it “Hammy”. We kept them for the most part in the back larder a narrow but long room that led to the back door and also had a deep larder/ cupboard). Anyway one day Goldie (I think it may have been Hammy they looked the same) got out of his cage and made a bee line for the back door and managed to squeeze himself into the very small gap that was under the door. We waited got a few hours to try and get him out but to no avail so we decided we would have to open the door and catch him. Sadly that had a disastrous effect of breaking the wee souls back lets (I can still hear the squeal) but amazingly after that he made a dart for his cage – the vet said he could live ok like that and it wasn’t uncommon for that to happen to hamsters (and he wasn’t in pain?) - and he did survive seemingly ok for a few month (being spoiled rotten) before he was buried in the garden in a show box. A few weeks after that Goldie escaped and that was the last we saw of him as well. I also always think about Hammy (and Goldie) hoping they didn’t suffer as I really liked my wee hamsters and wonder if anyone dug up his wee box after we moved house. I used to have a yellow budgie (not a canary) that was off it “heid” it kept attacking the family (except me) and in order to get rid of it (to a neighbour that loved budgies) my mum and dad got me a wee dog - As much as I liked my wee Hamsters and budgie nothing compares to my wee dog I really miss her even to this day – my best pal ever.

    1. Dogs are hard to beat, PM, but isn't it strange that we both still think back fondly on our other pets? We had budgies and chaffinches (I think they were - at different times), but one day my dad decided to get rid of them (the then-current budgies), because I think he'd read that they can carry diseases, which made my mum feel a bit wary of them. I was going to school that day (still primary) and my parents said "You'd better say goodbye to the budgies - they won't be here when you get back." (Cheeky and Joey were their names.) I shrugged my shoulders as if i didn't care, but as I got to the back gate, I was overwhelmed with sudden sadness and rushed back in to bid them goodbye. Many, many, years later, me and Moonmando were in my old neighbourhood, and I pointed out my old house. "That's the house where me and Tam (one of his brothers) collected a budgie cage and two budgies back in 1969 or early '70." I was astonished, as I didn't meet Moony 'til secondary school (although his brother had been in my class at primary school, but I didn't know him then either - in fact, I didn't even know at the time, not discovering the fact until many years later when looking at an old school photo)), so it was a surprise to learn that he'd actually been in my former house before I knew him. (I guess he must've dogged school at some stage in the day to collect the budgies and cage.) Now, don't start me reminiscing about the goldfish and tropical fish...


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