Boston has come into several conversations recently, and looking through old photographs, I have come across some images I took when I visited my friend Sue in Boston in the 1980s.
It was very hot. I arrived while there was a heatwave. We didn’t do a lot of the sights, but hung out, playing long and complicated games of Scrabble late into the night when the air was cooler.
Sue’s pet rabbit would sometimes knock the board over, but how he enjoyed those evenings. Let loose to run around the ground floor he would leap into the air for the sheer plaesure of it. It made me realise just how inappropriate most rabbits’ accommodation is.
That’s not to say that letting him have such freedoms came without problems. Originally I believe Sue had planned to have him as a house rabbit, inspired, I think, by Felicity Kendal’s house rabbit in The Mistress. She hadn’t counted on him choosing the sofa as a toilet, or his extreme need to chew everything in reach.
By the time I visited, he had been confined to half the front porch, and in contrast with his wild relatives who dig burrows underground, his apartments were high rise. He had a large dog cage and inside there was an attractive piece of driftwood for him to chew.
Sometimes he’d join us at the back, and nibble on a carrot, or go very soppy and still while Sue brushed him.
I nicknamed him Destructo, but I fell in love with him too. He didn’t seem to know he was supposed to be a shy prey animal. I missed the visit by the plumber when Destructo peed on his foot. Rabbits have quite large capacity in their bladders. When we went to the petshop, we looked in vain for rabbit toys. There were none, so we got him some designed for budgerigars. One had a bell in it. Destructo quickly learned that on the occasions when he was confined to his half porch, he could command our attendance by throwing this toy about so that it rang. I remember one evening when Sue’s sister and her husband came over, and all four humans ended up with our gin and tonics or whatever sitting in the rabbit pen.
He did a grand job of eating up dead leaves from plants, and an even grander job of Ambassador. Ever since that holiday, I have thought I should like a rabbit. He had such a character, enjoyed socialising so much, and was a very handsome creature.
I did see some of the sights of Boston in the end, but it was Destructo who made the biggest impression on me. Sue is coming to London in August. I am wondering if she’ll return with more photos of MasterB than most visitors.