Our 15 Minutes of Fame

by Donna Matthews

My husband always comes home for lunch, which in itself is a bit of a pain but we all have our crosses to bear, don't we? One thing he does whilst waiting like a chick in the nest for food to miraculously drop into its beak is to dive for the telephone should it ring. Perhaps he thinks I have a secret lover (the chance would be a fine thing, no time with all the ferrets!).

Anyway on this particular day last May, the phone rang whilst I was preparing lunch. "Hey, it's a lady from ITV, wants to speak to you about ferrets. Don't be long, got to get back for 1.30." Food was duly presented with one hand, handset taken with the other. Yes it really was someone from ITV Westcountry Television. Julie Fisher, the lady in question, was the presenter of a show called 'Off the Leash' which was on the air during the local news at about 6 o'clock once a for a few week weeks and lasting about 15 minutes

Julia explained that she was to present a programme about made people with a strange pet that they had in the house. I explained that my ferrets lived outside in a ferret court, but that those in hutches did come in for exercise and at some time or other they would all be in at different times in groups for socialising and play. "That would be wonderful," she said. I told her that we had 27 (a litter had just been born to a little rescue ferret). She was over the moon, "Lovely, cubs."
"No dear; kits." I replied

I was asked if I would appear with the ferrets for an episode and I agreed, although I did not want it be mentioned that I was a rescue for obvious reasons: unwanted ferrets can and do appear from nowhere!

Sadly, before Julie came over to Kingsteignton to film, a dreadful intestinal virus struck. This was contracted at a local show; I lost 7 ferrets and other people I know suffered similar losses. It was heartbreaking. Those who were infected and survived quickly recovered, thank goodness.

It was the middle of June when filming took place. Julie and cameraman arrived dead on 10 o'clock. Before that, as all my friends know my home is a tip, Roger and I had spent some time a day or two beforehand with mop and bucket, hoover and duster and although the house looked tidier and cleaner it still looked like an ill-kept yurt on the Mongolian Plains (No offense meant to Mongolians).

Julie and her cameraman had never met a ferret before and, like so many people, had the preconceived idea of them being horrible, smelly and vicious. Upon their introduction to Minette, a tiny, sweet, elderly sandie jill, they soon changed their minds.

We had ferrets in pockets, on leads trotting up and down the road, kits in abundance and lots and lots of fun. This went on all morning.

Roger came home for lunch, no lunch was ready or had even been thought of so he took a sandwich and beat a hasty retreat.

After we had all eaten our sandwiches the sun came out so we took Dino and Mango for another trot up the road but they decided to play and their leads got tangled up so Dino, a lovely dark polecat who knows he's a handsome fella and a bit of show off, did some shots on his own. Meanwhile Mango, a sandy hob who was then just under a year old and learning that climbing legs was not really the thing to do, was backing up to the cameraman's shoes for a poo!!

Come 4 o'clock we were all done, quite literary done in the case of the ferrets and myself but it was a good laugh and an excellent day for ferret PR. Both Julie and her cameraman were converts. Not a single nip had been received and Julie was happy to receive a kiss from Minette (well I think she was happy!).

When the show went out I was impressed. The ferrets were good. Poor Roger however, even now is asked "was that your Missus on TV? You're right mate, she really is mad; just a bit."

First Published in NFWS News #77 January 2007

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