Where have ferrets been hiding since the 1970s? There was a time when it was hard to turn on the TV without either seeing someone stuffing a ferret down their trouser leg or Richard Whiteley being bitten by one. Or am I misremembering?
Ferret-legging was a sport––is that really the right term for it?––which has claims to have originated in either Yorkshire or Scotland. For a brief period of time, it was as iconic a symbol of the North as were flat caps and whippets and Ecky Thump. The Seventies saw the Great Ferret-legging Revival, and it provided a popular spectacle for the numerous magazine-style TV programmes, which proliferated at the time, one of which being Calendar, presented by Richard Whiteley, later of Countdown fame. Whiteley’s own ferret misfortune occurred in 1977, when a ferret, belonging to breeder Brian Plummer, latched on to his finger and would not let go for over half a minute, causing the presenter real and obvious on-air anguish.
Why this sudden revival of memory, you may ask? Well, the answer is quite easy. I chanced to open my front door a couple of days ago and, there, walking along the pavement, immediately outside my house, brazenly strolling along my ordinary urban street, was a woman with a ferret on a lead. I looked again. And she was gone.
Had I imagined her? Had I been suffering from the hallucinations of an alcohol-induced haze? Was it all a false memory?
It made me begin to doubt myself. Was the ferret-legging of the 1970s just a false memory? Was Richard Whiteley a false memory? Were the entire 1970s a false memory?
It seemed entirely possible.
© Beery Sue
Beery Sue is a Seventies agnostic.