Grandad (Pop's Pop) has always been a nature lover. Handily lying about the kitchen could be spotted the odd old crust of bread ready to feed any local birds who stopped off in the front garden for a quick snack. Nowadays, he has the full bird table with special bird feed and everything so that he can observe the comings and goings of the neighbourhood feathered folks. I was never that much of a twitcher* myself. No, the important thing to me was the bag of monkey nuts that were kept on standby in the glove compartment of Grandad's car.
You see, we lived but a short ride away from Greenwich Park and, in amongst the section of the park where the deer could be found to roam, lived a large selection of squirrels. Yeah, not so unusual. I know. Park, trees, green spaces, squirrels. And there wasn't anything particularly exceptional about them. Except maybe for their superhuman levels of cheekiness.
Due to the regular stream of people style visitors, the furry little menaces had become so immune to the presence of people that the human form had become just another obstacle to hurdle in the acquisition of food. This was what The Brother and I loved. The game went like this:- retrieve monkey nut from Grandad. Stand next to tree. Hold said monkey nut betwixt thumb and forefinger. Wait for squirrel to climb you like a tree in order to acquire the nut. Try not to giggle or scream depending on level of squirrel claw tickling or accidental claw gouging. Repeat until either we or the squirrels got bored first (it was normally the squirrels).
To this day, the sight of a bag of monkey nuts causes a wave of squirrel-based nostalgia. At Chez Ma and Pa, however, relations with the squirrels were to take a decidedly frosty turn in later years...
*Bird watcher to you non-ornithological types.