Tomorrow morning, April 1st, I attend an auction sale at Bristows, in the hope of procuring a mounted specimen I had long thought just a dream; the nigh-mythical Thicke-Foote.
The original Thicke-Foote is still also known in these parts as the Sussedsquash (from the olde English 'squash', to suppress and 'suss', a realisation the ornithological rozzers are onto any false claim).
Like oh so many, I have only seen illustrations before. The Thick-Foote is said to be a moderate sized, feathery, corlee-like fowle with cankles as thick as a mid-finger. Long thought both nocturnal and invisible (to all but Madame Curie's glow-in-the-dark sticks) young George has advertised he has come into the possession of a full set most complete, namely one of each of the various claimed sightings of Thicke-Foote species from around the world, said to have been taken as a flock at Lanceolating, Sou'Saxon.
Genuine provenance? Well, some might wait for the Watchmen to decide. At this very moment I know I just neeeeeed one, oh so badly, so I am heartily influenced by the reports from Bristow of his enquiries made by telephonic communication to a 'shady dealer' in such matters named only as "Fowle 'Arry", who has indicated none to be known in any zoological gardens or collections in our realm. That is good enough for me(!)
I quote the choices available to me from the catalogue, together with comments;-
Lot no. 04590
The original Thicke-Foote. Not to be confused with the Stoney-Corlee. Once supposedly as widespread in TUKOGBANI as that more familiar Stoney-Corlee, but now thought extinct for many years.
(Fowle 'Arry says this is the type most often claimed by observers hearing common corlee, and he could probably secure a crate if needs be. So save your money for a bigger prize.)
Lot no. 04600
Almost a doppleganger of the Eurasian, but instead leaves a tell-tale size seven print, not a size six. One once thought to have been housed in the now disbanded collection at Leeds Follycastle, any/all present owners are unknown.
(Whomever they might be, Fowle 'Arry says they "ain't never letting such a prize out to roam, f'sure.")
Lot no. 04600.5
Again, supposedly not dissimilar to Eurasian in appearance, best separated by an association with crocs. Once suggested to have been in a collection in some Prussian zoo some decades past, but as we do not really get on with them nowadays, who really cares.
(Certainly according to Fowle 'Arry there are none in captivity here in God's chosen land.)
Lot no. 04600.6
It was written one once shared a pool with a creature called a 'Shamu', in some far-off colony of the Empire, but apparently protesting natives spirited that specimen away many years ago.
(Again, Fowle 'Arry knows of none in the country, but might be able to find one for a small fee.)
Lot no. 04610
Thousands were once claimed to have been in a private collection in their native lands at Isandlwana Bird Park, but were handed over to Rourke's Drift-migrant Theme park and then mysteriously mislaid.
("Definitely a real 'un", according to Fowle 'Arry.)
Lot no. 04610.1
Last claimed by the lead pair of the ill-fated Meinertzhagen-Munchausen expedition to Colombia (pictures never put out on general release).
(Fowle 'Arry says "that stuffed'un's a banker.")
Lot no. 04610.2
Once claimed as collected in great number by the famous explorer Walter Snetterton whilst high in the Andes during his attempt to prove the altitudinal migration of frogs. Recent accounts in the possession of his living relations suggest Snetterton fed them to the frogs when they became confused and befuddled at 13,000 feet. (The expeditionary party were befuddled, not the frogs;- they were all fine.).
(Fowle 'Arry says he put a posting on a world-wide inter-webbe grouppe for herpetological dietary requirements and no-one has said they keep any, so that is proof enough of wildness.)
Lot no. 04610.3
There are said to be sound recordings existing from many decades ago, and a rumour abounds of a circus tour featuring an original specimen coming to our shores later this very year.
(Other than this, Fowle 'Arry knows "nuffink".)
Lot no. 04620
There have only been rumours of rumours of these magnificent beasts since routine dredging of the Empire's waterways ceased.
(Fowle 'Arry has a sniff of a new sighting this very day from some newly dredged muddied parts down upon the Levels, but he thinks just wishful thinking on the part of the locals. His judgement? "That stuffed 'uns deffo worth a punt.")
that's yer lot no. 04620.1
Rumours of rumours of rumours from the Indian Ocean persist. Many spend fortunes searching.
(Fowle 'Arry says this is the one if the price is right;- he could afford it, he'd "av it" on his mantlepiece.)
Diary, I am sure there will still be some doubters who would suggest these may not be Thicke-Footes at all, but some sort of taxidermified chimera. For my part, I am ready;- I am aware that the tarsus width to bill width ratio should be no more than 3.14159 to 1.00000. Any greater and a claimant risks confusion with the much more common and plausible Slender-billed Corlee, of which I already own one. I shall not fall for that.
Oh diary, I shall not sleep much tonight- I cannot wait for the morrow when I shall certainly be parted, most easily, from all my monies(!)
|A Thicke-Foote. Probably.|