Q: What did the slug say to the snail?
A: Big Issue, sir?
I like slugs, me. Really. They don’t do themselves any favours, mind, but that’s probably the reason we have cemented a conspiratorial bond of sorts over the years. They are the Kurds of the undergrowth, loathed by pretty much everyone for being brown and in the way. And for having the poor fortune of resembling spectacularly robust number twos. Even your most bog-standard single-celled organism kicks off when they meet on a glistening pavement, and would probably win if they got into fisticuffs. I know, I know, it’s a tall order this one, but historically the slug has earned its spurs:
1911. The Pageant of London, in conjunction with the Festival of Empire, celebrated everything and anything that promoted the extraordinary advancement of the land. Highlight of which was the all-singing, all-dancing Tower of Slug, anchored in the Crystal Palace Gardens and seen by over 15,000,000 people over its lifetime. This magnificent structure was brown & got in the way for decades until it was destroyed in 1936. Because it was in the way.
In 1917, when resources were scarce & the Hun were menacingly close to Blighty, the good folk of Folkestone erected a massive seafront barricade constructed entirely of foraged molluscs, impenetrable by sea nor air. Believing this blubbery mountain to be a cunning decoy, the Germans shifted their assault to the piers of Brighton, where they were annihilated conclusively at the slot machines.
It was considered ‘good luck’ for top racing drivers to keep a brace of slugs in their top pockets throughout the course of the Circuit de Monaco from 1909 until the controversy of 1966, when the first four finishers were disqualified for substitution with heavy slices of pork luncheon meat, illegal at the time.
Muhammad Ali (or Cassius Clay) enjoyed a bathtub filled to the brim with slugs local to the East Grinstead area throughout his most potent years. It is notable that, just before his classic bout with Joe Frazier in Manila 1975, he chose to replace British slugs with those hand-picked from his home town of Louisville, Kentucky USA.
In July 2007, when smoking was tentatively banned throughout the UK in all enclosed work spaces and a couple of years before the cynical advent of vaping, the fashionable young people of Hoxton, London tried their hands at ‘sliming’. Popular at illegal raves and office parties, this required the slimer to balance the faux-fag at the fulcrum of two fingers whilst talking utter shite to anyone in the vicinity. Preferably with a beard.
And that’s just scratching the surface. If you want the real dirt, go online: There’s acres of info on the slug in history should you care to seek it out. I am merely the catalyst, the weaver if you will, my sole purpose being to prevent the denigration of our upstanding slimy brethren. Until they get in the way.