Did you watch watch the BBCs Children in Need programme last year? Were you moved by the winsome graphics of hideously disabled small people bravely soldiering on without the necessary wheelchair or whatever? Did your wallet rise magically to the surface and your hand reach out for the telephone to pledge some money to help? Pudsey was grateful.
Old Pudsey has some strange ideas of ‘Children in Need’. I’m prepared to bet that you never imagined Pudsey would spend Â£34,198 of your money paying towards an army of old ladies to help 73,694 Toads cross roads…’Look left, look right, hold my hand and off we go Mr Toad. Remember the Green Frog Code, Mr Toad’.
Blimey, I’ve fallen down some weird rabbit holes in my ceaseless search for something new to write every day, but these ‘ere Frogs have definitely jumped the shark and spawned an entire industry of grant farmers.
Tomorrow there is an ‘international conference’ in glamorous Spalding. Representatives from France, Spain, Hungary, Portugal, Lithuania, Denmark, Netherlands, Romania, Germany, Poland, and Switzerland are at this moment claiming their expenses to travel into deepest Lincolnshire, not to discuss the fate of the European Union, but to fret over the fate of our warted friend.
Some pretty impressive expenses are involved too. Over half a million quid last year. Â£646,586 to be exact. Toad feed, some would say.
Naturally I was off to the Charity Commission as fast as my arthritic little fingers would take me, to find out where ‘Froglife’ and their ‘Tuppence a Toad’ campaign were getting the cash from for International conferences. Whew! At least I’m not actually paying for it – not that the good natured taxpayer isn’t shelling out, but it doesn’t come directly from the government…Peterborough Ratepayers coughed up an impressiveÂ Â£40 odd grand, last year Glasgow City Council doled out Â£30,000 to preserve Glasgow Toads for posterity.
I can understand why organisations like O and H Hampton dig into their profits and find a spare Â£22,500 – when you have a multi-million pound house building project right on the doorstep of ‘Froglife’, you wouldn’t want to be caught with a Great Crested Newt or two about your building site. What’s a few grand protection money (protecting the Toads, I mean, of course, what else?) compared to the potential financial penalties? Last year, a Chinese firm working in Poland were nearly finished off by the losses involved when a ‘sister organisation’ of ‘Froglife’ discovered a Toad in their hole.
Seven rare species of frogs posed additional budget challenges that COVEC officials had never expected.
Calling attention to the environmental issue was the Polish consulting company overseeing the design of one road segment, Dro-Konsult. The firm told COVEC to protect the frogs, which live along the highway route, citing European Union rules for environmental protection.
At first, COVEC ignored the issue. But soon Dro-Konsult was demanding that COVEC workers immediately move frogs before the start of winter hibernation. After that, road work had to be suspended for two weeks while the frogs were captured and moved to a safe location.
Dro-Konsult also ordered COVEC to build special, protective passageways for frogs and animals in the highway’s path, raising the project’s costs.
It is not just Charities earning a bob or two out of concern for the common Toad – there are academics in deepest Dorset gathered round a pond earnestly weighing every last Natterjack, and enquiring as to its sexual orientation (do any refuse to answer?), in Kent they are debating the possible consequences ofÂ a wart inducing virus (can a Toad have too many warts? Even for a Toad?) Whilst out on the Romney Marshes yet another academic put his lifetime of learning to the test and concluded (cautiously) that getting run over on the roadÂ ‘had possibly contributed’ to the declining Toad population…
What a strange country the UK has become. Policemen are prohibited from working overtime because of the ‘dire circumstances of the economy‘; children denied life saving treatment on the NHS; yet the charitable Toad industry thunders on to fresh success, croaking away in their annual accounts ‘Our team in Scotland has not been wasting any time in getting to grips with a large grant from WREN’ – and even apparently (the mind boggles) spending 2,415 hrs working with young offenders delivering community service orders – in return for another grant.
Sexing Toads as punishment for sexually assaulting women? Really?
How can one give up blogging faced with the daily fascinating insights into the reality of life in the UK?
Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the cauldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt and toe of frog,
Wool of bat and tongue of dog,
Adder’s fork and blind-worm’s sting,
Lizard’s leg and howlet’s wing,
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.