Easy As Falling Off A Bike pt 160

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She sat quite happily in my hands for the CCTV, there were offers of a DVD for anyone who needed it for a TV station. Of course the photographers came up and started snapping away. Spike did not like the flashes and began to get agitated. I reached for her box and as I did so, she shot out of my hand along my sleeve and down the neck of my blouse.

Easy As Feeding A Donkey Strawberries.
by: Her wot writes 'em.
part: 2xtriple twenty & double tops = erm!

My birthday ended with a kiss and a cuddle with Simon, although because of the surgeon's advice, something had to be left dangling, I very much kept my knickers on. When he fell asleep, I slipped back to my own room and bed. I had loads to do and needed to get some rest.

Tuesday morning arrived and I dressed casually, for work then had a text message as I was about to leave from Pippa.

'Press r here, ring me, Pip.'

My stomach flipped. Stella and Simon had gone to work already, I had little option but to call Pippa.

"Hello, Professor Agnew's Office."

"Hi Pippa it's me." I could hear voices in the background.

"Can you hear the noise?"

"Yes, what should I do?"

"Don't ask me, speak to Prof Agnew or the Dean. I just thought I ought to warn you."

"Yes, thanks. I'll text you back when I decide what to do."

"Okay Mrs Smith, she is very busy at a meeting at the moment, I don't know when she'll be in again...." Obviously Pippa must have been in a position to be overheard and pretended to talk to someone else. She was good at her job.

I dialled the professor's home. No answer then ansafone. I decided to leave a message. "Sorry to bother you Prof, but we have rather a lot of the press at the department following the article in last night's paper. Should I go in and face them or lie low? Advice please."

I then tried the Dean's office, he was constantly engaged. I decided to go and face them, but first a quick makeover. I ran up to the bathroom and stripped off my jeans and top, put on some makeup, not a lot but enough to make me look half tidy. Then I grabbed a blue suit and a white blouse, and some fairly low court shoes. I kept the jewellery simple and then called a taxi. I didn't want them recognising my car. It was going to be expensive, but probably worth it.

I packed up my lappy while I waited, I looked more like a civil servant than an academic, I wanted to look professional but not sexy just in case there were cameras about. One photo had got me into enough trouble. The sun was shining and I got my sun glasses from the car. I heard the car approach and pulled on my coat.

The taxi driver pulled up outside the department, there were quite a few bodies milling around plus a van with BBC on it. Oh hell! I pulled my hair back into a pony tail and slipped on a scrunchy.

The taxi driver noticed me, "They waiting for you, or something?"

"Fraid so," I adjusted the scrunchie, the pony tail high on my head.

"Was that you in the paper last night, caught the sneak thief?"

"Fraid so."

"You gotta get through that lot?" he indicated the throng blocking the doorway.

"Yes, no, take me round the block will you, there's a side entrance."

He did and although I was spotted, I was in the building before anyone could get to me. I virtually ran to my lab, almost knocking Neal over.

"Hi Cathy, how did you get past the lynch party?"

"Side entrance, can't stop need to call Pippa." He nodded and went off.

"Hello Professor Agnew's Office."

"Hi Pip, it's me I'm down the lab."

"How did you do that Mrs Smith?"

"A secret map and a good compass, oh and the side door."

I heard her chuckle, "Professor Agnew will be here for a press conference in one hour. So I should wait till he gets here Mrs Smith."

"You think I should stay here for the moment then?" I repeated to her.

"I think so Mrs Smith, the professor won't be long."

"Where are they holding the press conference?"

"In lecture theatre three."

"Okay, thanks Pippa, sorry I left you to deal with it all."

"It's my pleasure Mrs Smith, maybe next time." She put the phone down and I wondered what the last bit of the message was about, and decided it meant nothing other than the pretend conversation.

I went and looked at the dormice, Spike was pleased to see me, well she was for the Brazil nut - tart! I wondered if I should produce her for the press conference, if the Professor wanted me to attend, and her too. I just thought, she would steal the show, an exhibitionist dormouse, whatever next?

Some ten or so minutes later, my phone rang. "Cathy, how are you?"

"I'm fine," I lied, I'd been to the loo twice.

"Okay, this is what we're going to do......"

"Should I bring Spike?"

"Great idea, see I left a place for you to make a contribution, as I knew you would."

"I have a suit on, is that okay, or should I wear a lab coat?"

"What make it look as if you've just been interrupted dissecting dormice?"

"Okay, I'll leave off the lab coat."

"Look as sexy as you can, I don't want anyone questioning what you are, other than a beautiful young woman. Is it the same suit as you had on yesterday?"


"Pity, because you wore that one for the government visit." Yes and the bloody photo that's caused all this.

"You know the staff entrance to the lecture room?"

"Yes Prof."

"I'll go in the student entrance, which should draw off the hounds while you sneak in like a technician."

I agreed and we arranged to meet in twenty minutes. I had just about enough time to go to the toilet another fifteen times before then.

I slipped out of the labs and down the corridor carrying my favourite rodent in a small darkened cage. Actually, it's a perspex box with air holes in it and a carry handle. I had a supply of nuts with me.

There was hardly anyone at the tradesmen's entrance, just a technician in a lab coat, who passed me as I got to the door. I slipped it open and went in. Professor Agnew emerged from the door to the podium a low murmur following him in. He closed the door.

"Not as sexy as before, but it will have to do, let your hair down girl."

I untied it and brushed it out.

"That's better. The Dean should be here in a moment or two, he is going to chair it. There will be nothing personal asked, except the robbery and the forthcoming marriage. I'm afraid that's already in the public domain. So what we try to do is to hi-jack it for free publicity for the project."

"Okay," I agreed shaking from fear. "Thanks for coming in and taking over."

"It's my job and allows me to show off my department and my life's work, also one of my very talented team, who is also so beautiful she will captivate them all."

I began to blush and looked away, "Not you, the bloody tree rat," he said and roared with laughter.

Dr Andrews arrived and the murmur if anything was louder than when Agnew had come. "If you're ready, lets get it over and done with. Oh by the way Cathy, you and Spike have appeared in about twenty newspapers here and on the continent, and led to a hundred enquiries by young women thinking of doing biology or zoology, since last night.
If we handle this well, there could be another thousand by the end of the week."

"How many do you usually get?" I asked.

"One or two from girls, more from boys."

"Coo!" I was overwhelmed, were people that ill informed, or just looking for inspiration? Obviously, they thought it was all about wearing YSL suits and handling dormice! It isn't, this suit came from 'Next'.

The Dean went out and was greeted by a round of applause. He asked for the noise to be kept down as I had brought a dormouse with me, who could actually die from fright. It would probably be true for most of them, but not Spike. She'd performed at a conference of six hundred delegates who cheered and clapped her. She just chomped away on her brazil nut, unconcerned, while I held her and kept my buttocks clenched. Gosh, I was multi-tasking even before I transitioned. I tried not to laugh, I was in danger of wetting myself.

"I should like to introduce Professor Tom Agnew, who is head of this department of Zoological science and leader of the Mammal Survey of the UK and eventually Europe. This is an enormous honour for the university and is only possible because of the reputation of Professor Agnew and his team, which is internationally renowned.

Finally, I would like to introduce Cathy Watts, soon to become Lady Cameron, a postgraduate member of the team, with responsibility for collating data on rodents, and one species in particular. I think without any shadow of a doubt, she is one of the world's leading experts on the common dormouse, and she has brought along one who is called 'Tyke' I believe. She is also now well know as a local crime fighter." A ripple of applause went around the room.

Agnew grabbed his sleeve, a roar of applause errupting as I stepped onto the podium. The Dean did his best to quieten things down.

"I stand corrected, our esteemed colleague's name is Spike." He chuckled and the room rumbled with laughter. I slipped a Brazil nut into the box and tiny pair of hands accepted it.

Tom Agnew and the Dean fielded most of the early questions, which were about the project. I was invited to comment on two, which related to the problem of global warming and rat populations.

"There is anecdotal evidence to suggest that numbers are increasing with environmental change. But whether the two are related, we don't know for certain, which is one of the reasons for the survey, remember as well that we are changing the environment with development through increasing populations of humans, with all the complications that brings -food production and waste disposal, plus places for them to breed more effectively. Rattus norvegicus is a very successful and adaptable animal, perhaps second only to some insects, oh, and humans."

Then one about dormice, which I answered without being to technical. I'd forgotten all this was being filmed until I was asked to show them Spike.

We have a CCTV system worked by a technician, so I could hold her on the table top and she would be seen on a large screen behind me. I carried the box over to the bench. I'd used the system before, so it wasn't too worrisome. Of course I got a round of applause for just walking across the podium. Spike was still munching, she was practically bomb-proof and I loved her to bits.

She sat quite happily in my hands for the CCTV, there were offers of a DVD for anyone who needed it for a TV station. Of course the photographers came up and started snapping away. Spike did not like the flashes and began to get agitated. I reached for her box and as I did so, she shot out of my hand along my sleeve and down the neck of my blouse.

The laughter was deafening as I felt the little furry body working its way down inside my blouse towards the waistband of my skirt. The technician came to assist, I grabbed the moving lump and he then held it while I turned away from the tittering crowd and reached inside my blouse and grabbed our escapee. To make life even more embarrassing, she peed while she was in there.

Finally, the Houdini of dormice was safely recaptured and after being put back in her box, Dan, the technician took her into the prep room.

Once the rumpus died down and I returned to my seat, the Dean asked if there were any further questions. A hand shot up, a woman journalist near the front. "When are you and Lord Cameron getting married?"

"We haven't set a date, we're both very busy and haven't had a chance to sort it out yet."

"When did you decide to catch the purse snatcher?" called a man from the back.

"I didn't really think about it, I saw him grab Stella's bag and move off, and I just chased after him. I think he saw me, so I had to try and stop him. I just jumped on him and he fell over."

"Are you going to play ladies' rugby?"

"I don't think so." I smiled back blushing.

"Was it Lord Cameron who was shot by poachers a while back?"

"Yes we were out surveying the dormice, I do regular checks on numbers and weights of individual animals."

"So this survey work is potentially dangerous."

"All field work is. In the dark you can fall into holes or over tree roots, into rivers and so on. We do have guidelines to minimise risk and fieldworkers are expected to gain a knowledge of their site in daylight if they do night work. Also no one goes out alone, and they have emergency equipment which they are trained to use."

"Viscount Stanebury said you were a race cyclist, who do you ride for?"

"I have ridden for the university once in a friendly, I don't race for a club at the moment, not enough time to get race fit." I was praying the Dean would call a halt.

"Did you enjoy your birthday party at the yacht club last night?"

"Yes thank you." What a silly question I thought, then realised it was the DJ, he obviously worked for a radio station as well. He winked at me and I blushed.

"Right that's it ladies and gents, I think Cathy and Professor Agnew have been very helpful, not to mention Houdini the dormouse." There was a round of applause.

A man about twent eight or thirty ran to the podium and accosted me. "Hi I'm Des Lane, I'm an independent film maker who does stuff for the BBC natural history unit, I'm interested in doing a film on dormice for them. Would you be prepared to help, there'd be a consultant's fee for you or the university, not a lot but a couple of thousand I expect, depending upon how they want to do it. Personally, I'd love to see you present it."

"What do you mean?"

"You know do a David Attenborough, help me write the script then film it then do some bits walking about the countryside while reciting the script."

"Gosh, I don't know. I don't know if I'd have time. Can I get back to you Des?"

"Yeah course," he handed me his card, "Check with them, the Beeb I mean, I am kosher, and I think it could do lots for your survey."

"I'll need to speak to my Prof."

"Okay, thanks for your time, give me a ring anyway, especially if you're ever in Bristol. Oh, I cycle too."

"Who was that?" asked Agnew.

"Some film maker chap, with the BBC natural history lot."

"And? God it's like pulling teeth!" he said exasperatedly.

"He wants to do a film on dormice and he wants me to help him, including presenting it."

"What about this project and the little matter of a doctoral study?"

"If I handled it correctly, the film could become part of both."

"Cathy, you're a hopeless romantic, be careful you don't over commit yourself, and remember you're going to be unavailable for a couple of months from January."

"Yes, I hadn't forgotten." I became aware of the cold air on a wet patch on my blouse. I loved that little critter, just couldn't think why?


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