One day Nan produces a cardboard box saying she has a surprise for us. My parents exchange anxious looks. Inside is a heap of straw that moves as if something is going to erupt from it (think John Hurt's chest in Alien). Nan parts the straw to reveal a small furry bundle: a guinea pig. Orange and white with black button-eyes and wiggling furiously.
'Cousin Doreen's got an Alsatian,' she says as if this explains everything. The box fortunately was not big enough to contain an Alsatian - even a puppy.
'He eats anything that moves so I said I'd find a good home for this little chap'.
Mum and Dad don't want a guinea pig, but know when they have met an immovable force. The guinea pig is christened Peachy - another top-class animal name from me (Just as well I never became a racehorse namer or one of those people who think up paint names - Farrow and Ball would have gone out of business).
The straw continues to churn.
'Well, if you are going to have the big one, you'll have to have the small one.' Nan reaches in and pulls out a tiny guinea pig - this one is black and brown with a little caramel sprinkle. He is covered in tufts of hair, not smooth like the other one. Inevitably I decide to call him Tufty.
Nan puts Peachy and Tufty down to play on the floor. Peachy zips around, but Tufty lurches drunkenly.
'He's a bit lop-sided,' says Dad, picking him up. 'Oh he's only got three legs.'