A Monkey’s Tail… by Rosemary Lord

just-rosie-3Rosemary wrote her first book when she was ten years old – for her little brother. She also illustrated it herself. It was later rejected by Random House!

She has been writing ever since.

The author of Best Sellers Hollywood Then and Now and Los Angeles Then and Now,  English born Rosemary Lord has lived in Hollywood for over 25 years. An actress, a former journalist (interviewing Cary Grant, James Stewart, Tony Hopkins, John Huston amongst others) and a Senior Publicist at Columbia Pictures, she lectures on Hollywood history. Rosemary is currently writing the second in a series of murder mysteries set in the 1920s Jazz Age Hollywood featuring Lottie Topaz, an extra in silent movies.


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When it was suggested we bloggers write about our pets, I panicked.

My first reaction was “You must be joking. I am not allowed pets where I live. I am terrified of dogs (a childhood incident – don’t ask…) and I am allergic to cats…” Where does that leave me? Not wishing to be a spoilsport, I had a good, long think. So here goes:

I once had a monkey called Poggy. I was four years old and living with my family on the Mediterranean island of Malta, where my dad was stationed in the navy. I loved Poggy. Poggy was brown and white, with a long tail and red felt feet and paws. He was very cuddly.

But when we returned to live in England, Poggy stayed behind. In readiness for our big move back to England, Poggy was carefully washed, so he would be smart for the journey, and pegged on the washing line to dry. But somehow, with all the turmoil, soggy Poggy was left hanging on the washing-line in the back-garden, next to the well, amidst grapevines in the Mediterranean sunshine. I hope that the family that found Poggy, loved him as much as I did.

I’m quite good with turtles, though. Or was. My late husband, Rick, taught me to rescue turtles. In Kentucky, over the many years we spent visiting and taking care of his late-mother in the small town, south of Louisville, we frequently encountered turtles ambling across the narrow country lanes. Rick would stop the car and wait. If they didn’t get a move on – before cars or farm vehicles would come barreling down the road from the opposite direction – it became my job to get out of the car and carefully pick up the wandering turtle and place it on the far grass verge, out of harms way. They were often quite mad at me, spitting, wriggling or peeing as I lifted them to safety, before a speeding vehicle could  run them over. Road-kill abounded on those winding trails.

red eared sliderSo did Red-eared Sliders. So-called, because they have a narrow red stripe around their ears. The ‘slider’ bit comes from their ability to slide off rocks and such into the water quickly. Then there’s the common Snapping Turtle. I learned to grab them more towards the back of the shell, because they have longer necks and would, of course, snap at me. Hence the name. They can be vicious little what-nots, craning their necks, trying to reach my fingers and glaring at me as if to say, “Leave me alone, I was on my way to the pond up by the crossroads.”  Mind you, the Alligator Snapping Turtles can be huge, like some prehistoric creation. Their faces look a bit like E.T. on a bad day. My mother-in-law’s doctor had a collection of these in his garden. Some were as big as 75 lbs. Then, of course, there is the  Yellow-Bellied Slider: with a yellow under-belly and sometimes yellow stripes on its’ top shell. Not to be confused with the Eastern River Cooters, who have yellow stripes, too. Here endeth the turtle lesson. See. I used to know my turtles!

Rick was a goodfile00065284551 teacher. He loved all living creatures and had the most amazing knowledge, experience and affinity with them. Turtles and snakes were his favorite. We would go snake hunting, too. That’s when I usually stayed in the car. But sometimes I would have to handle the smaller ones. Or, if he found a large, wriggling snake and didn’t have a big sack to put it in, he would hold it gently out of the car-window with one hand, (careful not to injure the delicate vertebrae) while he drove – very slowly – back to the farm. He often promised (or threatened?) to take me to Death Valley in the summer, in search of the striped Rosy Boa!

Goodness, it’s all coming back to me. Maybe I should think about including some of this herpetological information in my writing. Not sure how ‘Lottie Topaz and the Red- Eared Slider’ would sound…

20 thoughts on “A Monkey’s Tail… by Rosemary Lord”

  1. I hope your stuffed monkey found a good home. But for someone who doesn’t necessarily cotten to dogs or cats, your experience with turtles and snakes will certainly find a home in one of your books. We all seem to have an animal somewhere in our life. A totally fun ride.


    1. Thanks Gayle. I think of Poggy from time to time – and hope he’s happy with his new family.


  2. I had to laugh. Like you, I don’t have a pet (currently) or write about animals and thought about abstaining from this round of animal-related posts. But like you, I delved into my memory. You took me on a journey into the past and I enjoyed every mile and moment. Fingers crossed for Poggy and all the wildlife you saved.


    1. It’s amazing what we can remember when we are forced to write about a subject, isn’t it!
      Glad you enjoyed the journey, Miko!


  3. I was allowed to hold a painted turtle once. It stuck out it’s legs and scared me and I dropped it on the dock. I’m sure it was alright, but that turned me off turtles…for their sake.


  4. What a fun post! I enjoyed it a lot despite our differences in our love of pets and animals. I did have some small pet turtles once upon a time but hadn’t thought much about them in years. Your description of rescuing wild turtles reminded me.


    1. Glad you enjoyed it, Linda. And it’s not that I don’t love animals – I’m just scared of dogs. Except for my brother’s dog Jude. This was years ago and Jude was rescued from an abusive owner. She seemed more afraid that I was, so we really ‘bonded’ – and she would sleep under my bed when ever I stayed there. She was sweet and I wasn’t afraid of her.


    1. Stephen – what a lovely surprise. I have seen photos of Seymour – and I have a feeling I wouldn’t be so scared of him. He looks like a fun part of your life….


  5. Delightful post, Rosemary! I giggle at the image of you carrying those turtles to safety. I am impressed with your knowledge of the different kinds of turtles, too. And the snakes! Yikes–I always thought you were one brave lady. This confirms it.


    1. Thanks, Bonnie. But I always had Rick watching what I was doing and guiding me. He gave me the courage. Couldn’t have done it otherwise…


    2. I will say that there was a man in Santa Barbara with snakes who wanted people to see how they were just animals. I held one and was surprised that it was warm and soft. There was a little white snake that was actually cute and snuggly looking! But having to feed them live things would keep me from ever owning one. I see people pick up bags of crickets at the pet store. Argh!


      1. Yes, the feeding of snakes is a whole other topic….. As you say, Jackie, argh!


  6. Enjoyed this piece. It took me to places I have never explored, either in reality or imagination. My real pets have been dogs and cats. My imagined pets have been lions, tigers, elephants, and horses. Except in fables, turtles and snakes have never caught my interest or attention. You helped me realise how limiting that is. It’s like living in a big city and feeling that you know the whole world.


    1. Why, thank you, Frank. I never thought I would get that close to turtles and snakes either. I’m not sure I’d have thought of having Lions and tigers for pets. But I did ride on Rosie the Elephant at Bristol Zoo as a little child. That was an adventure! Thanks for stopping by….


  7. Hi Rosie
    Loved your ‘Monkey business’ blog! I had little idea about the richness of your travels with Rick, we must talk more in Stoupa next time? The most mundane journeys can become explorations if you know where and when to look! As I write, early evening Ealing is covered in light cloud with a haze of sunshine breaking through, presage of something changing? Tomorrow we Brits will wake up to … possible change of cast and a new routine or – more likely – just a change of props and backdrop; but either way enthusiastic clowns trapped in the same old tent. But there is life outside of the circus. Maybe that’s the one thing we need to hold onto, both sides of the Pond. Exploring the small, really valuable things about being alive in 2017 – that will outlast Presidents, Prime Ministers, religious fundamentalists, Hedge Fund managers, anarchists and climate change deniers. What you and Rick shared on your travels was/is priceless.
    Peace and love!
    Your little brother.


    1. Why thank you, Phil, that means a lot.
      It is those little moments that, in retrospect, make such rich memories. Lots to talk about and to write about….


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