Under Cover



Dear Pam, 

How are you settling in? I was so impressed with how you just upped sticks and went off to live in Australia. No doubt you will be finding life very different.  I know how I felt when I first came here. It was such a change from living in a city. I don’t know what I would have done if I hadn’t met you. You introduced me to the Wild Life League, remember? 

I thought I’d drop you a line to let you know about our recent activities. We were all sorry when you left. You had been such an active member. But somehow your leaving galvanised us into action. I’m still teaching at the local primary school and last year we decided to have a badger theme for our summer fete. The children chose it, although I had given them a list of options. Children love animals, don’t they? There is something about badgers that makes people go all nostalgic. They do the same with pandas.    

Anyway, the Wild Life League was thrilled when I told them. We had been running out of ideas and our local group was getting a bit thin on the ground. Everybody thought the theme would help to attract new members. It’s always good to have new blood. As you know only too well people are happy to attend meetings but no one wants to do anything, let alone take on any organising role. So it always falls on the same few. But there’s no need for me to tell you that. 

I took on the task of organising the fete. It was the least I could do. I managed to get some of the parents involved. They brought in cuddly toys with black and white faces to sell on the day.  We organised face-painting activities and a bouncy castle. The day was to culminate in a trip to a badgers’ lair. The children would be thrilled to see real badgers scuttling out at twilight, I thought.  But it was not to be. 

I hadn’t reckoned on the strength of feeling from a certain section of the community. I hadn’t realised that some of the parents are farmers. Of course, they were dead set against the whole thing. They blame badgers for the spread of T.B. to their cattle and they are not shy in coming forward to tell you so. It caused a lot of friction on the day and eventually I had to intervene to stop a fight breaking out. In hindsight I should have known there might be trouble. Both groups are diametrically opposed. We are now revising our plans. It may mean operating underground. It all sounds a bit cloak and dagger doesn’t it? I’ll keep you informed.  

What is the weather like with you? We have had nothing but rain here since you left. Have you joined any wild life groups over there? I’m sure there are lots of endangered species that need protecting. What about the duck-billed platypus?

All the best,





Dear Pam,

This is by way of a card. It’s a while since I last wrote. You will never guess what has happened. I have finally met Mr Right. Don’t drop off your chair. I know I said I wanted nothing more to do with men after that last episode. But Clive is everything you could wish for in a man. He is good looking, caring, considerate, good fun and he can cook. I’m quite getting used to cordon bleu cooking.

I first set eyes on Clive at the school fete, that disastrous day I told you about last time.  Well, he complimented me on our badger stall and I gave him a leaflet about it.  We may have flirted mildly. Then he’d drifted off to join some kids. And I thought not more about it.  Anyway, to cut a long story short, he hasn’t got any kids and he isn’t married and we are seeing each other. 

He turned up at our AGM. That’s when I got to know him.  It is so refreshing to meet someone who shares the same interests and doesn’t have any baggage. The group are delighted too. Even at that first meeting he was volunteering to go on the committee and he hadn’t even become a member. Anyway, we managed to get round the regulations and soon had him voted on. He is a great organiser, a natural. He is good at public speaking and he listens to people and takes their opinions into account. It was a great relief to find someone to share the burden. 

We went to the pub after the AGM to celebrate having got the committee sorted. It is usually such an arduous process, with everyone twisting everyone else’s arm. And Clive was more than willing. He has just moved into the area and it turns out, he lives quite near me.  He offered me a lift home. I may have had one too many that night so I invited him in.  One thing led to another. It wasn’t just a sexual thing.  We have lots to talk about. So here I am, in a relationship, would you believe? I’ll keep you posted. 

Your friend  




                                                                                                                 New Year
Dear Pam,  

You’ll never believe it.  I just had to write and tell you. Clive and I are getting married. I’m afraid I’m becoming rather boring. It’s all I talk about.  The wedding is going to be later this year. As Clive says, why wait when you know it is right? 

I have been neglecting the Wild Life League, I’m afraid, but now that the festive season is out of the way will back into saving badgers. Clive feels as strongly as I do. The group is mounting a campaign to stop the government enforcing a cull.  We’ve managed to get it postponed till the summer but we’ll have to keep at it if we want to win. It has been difficult drumming up support in the community lately. That incident at the school fete rather put the damper on everything.  

We have decided to take matters into our own hands.  We are all united.  We will do whatever it takes. If it means lying down in the middle of the road and being carted off in a police van, so be it.  A number of us went out spray-painting one night, under cover of darkness. We painted badgers all over the village. It was Clive’s idea but he couldn’t make it that night. He had a prior commitment. 

Lucky for him. Direct action is definitely frowned on in this neck of the woods. It had caused something of a furore, I can tell you.   We received a severe ticking-off from the local magistrate. But you have to stand up for what you believe in, don’t you?   Keep in touch. Yours in haste. 





Dear Pam,

My life is not my own. What with trying to save badgers and organise a wedding, I barely have time to write to friends.  I don’t know what I’d do without Clive.  He has totally entered into the spirit and is full of suggestions as to how to get the attention of the public.  His ideas are original, whacky even.  One day we all dressed up in badger outfits and ran through the centre of the village, proclaiming ‘Freedom for badgers.’

I got some funny looks at the next parents’ evening.  Sometimes I think they don’t take me seriously any more.  But I am perfectly serious. I keep telling Clive, there is a simple solution to all of this. Stop eating meat. If everyone became vegetarian, there wouldn’t be any cattle to infect and there wouldn’t be a need for a badger cull. But will this ever happen? Clive says it would put the farmers out of business for one thing and for another, people like to eat meat. I suppose he is right.

Clive is getting carried away. His ideas get more and more way out by the day. I have to admire his enthusiasm, though. He came up with this idea of holding a pop festival on our village green and then he suggested getting a celebrity along to publicise it. When I asked him who he had in mind, he said he was thinking of Brian May of all people.  It turns out, apart from being a mega pop star and qualified physicist, Brian May also happens to be an ardent fan of badgers. The plan is far too grandiose for the likes of us. We are only a small group and we haven’t got any funds.  How on earth are we going to organise a pop festival? And, more to the point, how am I going to organise a wedding? Let me know how things are with you. Your dear friend.




Dear Pam,

I don’t know quite how to put this but you are such a good friend.  I know you will understand.  You were right. I should have listened to your advice.   It was all too good to be true.  It’s easy to see that in hindsight.  You know I told you I had found Mr. Right. Well he wasn’t Mr. Right at all.  He was Mr. Oh so Wrong.

I wasn’t thinking clearly. That’s all I can say in my defence. Clive ticked all the boxes. I’d got so used to his cooking.  They say food is the way to a man’s heart. It is also the way to a woman’s heart.  In the end we were practically living together. Marriage seemed like a good idea. I wanted kids. I thought Clive did too. I thought he would make a great dad.  I could envisage him playing with the kids on the living room carpet. He would be a hands-on dad, able to get down to their level and responsible at the same time.

Looking back there were signs, though, if only I’d taken the trouble to see them.  First he stopped coming to the meetings.  He said he had run out of ideas. The thing was his ideas were putting people off and our numbers had dwindled.  Then he started to withdraw from me. He started going out with his mates. I hardly ever saw him. So I asked him outright what was wrong. ‘I’m not sure about the kid thing,’ he said. That was all I could get out of him. I told him I couldn’t think of a better father for my children. It didn’t do any good.

One Saturday I asked him to do some errands in town. He often did the shopping on a Saturday.  So off he went but he never came back. And he wasn’t answering his mobile. I started to panic.  Maybe something had happened to him. Maybe he had had an accident. I called the police. But they could find no trace of him.

That was the last I saw him. He just disappeared from my life. Then I got a phone last week from a friend.  I couldn’t believe it when she first told me.  The news hit me like a bombshell.  Then I read it in the newspaper for myself. The police had been working under cover. They had been infiltrating environmental groups so as to sabotage their activities.  Clive was one of them.  It was there in black and white. Suddenly it all clicked into place. I can still hardly believe it.  

People tell me I’ve had a lucky escape, that I’m better off without him. Imagine how much worse it would have been, they say, if we’d actually got married, if we’d had children.  I know they are right. But I just can’t take it in yet.  I mean, how can anyone do something like that? 

Sod the badgers. I’m the one who needs protecting now. Expect a visit sometime soon. I’m booking my ticket right away.    

Your dear friend,




   Jenny Palmer,  2013

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