The Conchological Society publishes a fascinating magazine that goes by the wonderful name of Mollusc World. It is just the sort of magazine you should all have on your occasional table... well I think it's interesting anyway! One of the gems this time was a story about the novelist Patricia Highsmith. Apparently she was very fond of snails - alive not in garlic butter, and would often carry them around as companions in her handbag. She is said to have produced some at a dinner party and introduced them to the other guests when she was bored. I travelled up to London on the train today with a couple of dozen snails in my handbag and introduced them to a potential new customer - but I suppose that's different. I was conscious all the time that they were there, nestled between my A to Z and the obligatory folded umbrella but they kept quiet. They were fast asleep when I packed them but woke up on the way there - you can't expect a snail to keep quiet when it's raining outside.

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Helix aspersa muller: 'petit gris'

Other gems from Mollusc World included a request from the author of a New Naturalist book on Slugs and Snails to be published next year, asking for information on their recorded speed of movement and those stories about snails being used to crawl over wounds after the battle of Crecy in the Hundred Years War. 'Answers on a postcard' please or email to radc@blueyonder.co.uk.

When I was woken in the middle of night by the crash of a snail hitting the floor from a great height I leapt out of bed in an instant. There was a mass breakout in the snail room and there were dozens of escapees all over the ceiling. I rushed about a bit but eventually gave up and went back to bed and lay there pondering about the use of snails to promote the healing of wounds.

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