Thai Days: Our White-lipped pit viper

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Hugh Paxton’s Blog was having a row with my esteemed wife over curries. The curries were the cause of the domestic disorder. I’d bought too many. This sort of reckless and extravagant behavior infuriates my wife. My beloved daughter was hoping to intervene and calm things down and started to change the subject. This was a welcome initiative from my point of view but unwise from hers. My esteemed wife became distracted from her lousy too many curry buying husband and focused on beloved daughter’s slovenly habit of leaving socks, bags, football boots all over the garden. Annabel is no fool. She moved rapidly to restore peace and tranquility and while retrieving her wreckage encountered a rather more dramatic dispute and almost ended up in hospital.

Our cat was behaving strangely. Having its own domestic dispute. It was dusk. Poor visibility. I imagine that Annabel imagined Treat (our cat – and yes it’s a stupid name) was just fooling about. She went for her bag. I went for the cat. She eats geckos and I don’t like that. While I was booting the cat, Annabel was about to pick up one of the combatants. It wasn’t part of her school bag. It was a white lipped pit viper. And it was in a bad mood.

A beautiful snake. Really. But after a bout with Treat it was absolutely furious. It was coiled. The slightest movement by me invited a strike. A very swift strike.

And, this was really intriguing, it raised and shook its tail.

I never kill snakes. I thought for a minute about what to do. It was obviously venomous and aggressive. But I didn’t want it to get hurt. I decided to put it in a bag and remove it. I’ve never heard such shrieking! My beloved wife suddenly loved me again (despite my curry offences) my daughter, who has a morbid interest in TV shows that involve amputees talking about how their legs succumbed to necrosis after treading on a pit viper in Okinawa went into a frenzy. I was trying to calm the viper. My gals were, inadvertently, doing the opposite. They were trying to save me by yelling at me to calm down. Calm down? I was calm. But the more they yelled at me to leave it alone and come in, the more annoyed the snake became. Family life in Thailand. One minute you are being cursed for ordering one curry too far. The next you are being cursed for trying to humanely remove a white lipped pit viper.

A neighbor arrived with a slice of cake. She saw what was going on and didn’t stay.

Gabriel, another neighbor came round.

“Why’s everyone freaking out?”

“I really don’t know. It’s just a snake.”

“That’s cool. How long is it?”

“No idea. Come back with a ruler!”

Things then became a bit chaotic.

More people came. Not because of the noise. They just came for different reasons. Boring reasons.

The pit viper became more annoyed but didn’t move from its space by our front door. I tried to push it into a brown paper bag and if that bag was alive and had blood it would be dead. The snake whacked it good and proper.

Gabriel’s mummy wanted him to come home. I understood her concern. Some English idiot fooling around with a pit viper and her son. But Gabriel is good with snakes. Calm. After some consideration I steered our visitor into the drain.

He should then find his way to the nearest canal. He’ll be OK. I’m thankful to him. He didn’t bite my daughter, he broke up a family row, he made my cat’s life a little bit more interesting.

From: Hugh Paxton [mailto:paxton.bkk@gmail.com]
Sent: Thursday, October 09, 2014 9:39 PM
To: anpa22@patana.ac.th; midori.paxton@undp.org; paxton.bkk@gmail.com
Subject: White-lipped pit viper photos

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