The Strange Tales of Cuddles the Crocodile
The First Adventure
Tales of Tom MacRae
- Written for Claire by Tom McRae
It all started one very dark night when I was walking home and the
street lights were not working. I was walking very carefully when
THWHACKOH ! I fell over something in the street, something I
thought was a large tree trunk. I was winded by my fall but managed
to find my little flashlight and shine it on the thing I'd fallen
over .... IT WAS A GREAT BIG CROCODILE!!!!!
The monster's eyes shone at me in the light of my torch and I got
ready to run away as fast as I could. Up the hill towards home I
ran but behind me I could hear "Scuffley skiffley fwoop, scuffley,
skiffley fwoop", as the beast came after me (the fwoop was the
noise its tail made dragging behind). I reached my front door but,
my hand shook so much I couldn't get the key in the lock. The
horrid thing came nearer and nearer! Just as it started climbing
the front steps I managed to turn the key, get inside, and lock the
door. I fell exhausted into a chair, getting my breath back before
I rang the police.
Outside the door I heard scratching then a loud "Oooooooo
Hooooooo." I peeped out of the window and that crocodile was
Carefully I opened the door a little. "What's the matter?" I asked
the beast and it rolled on its back with legs in the air. I started
to feel a bit braver so I scratched his tummy which he seemed to
like. At least it did not seem to want me for dinner.
Dinner? Maybe it wanted food?
I opened four big tins of my cats' favourite fish platter and gave
the contents to my visitor who scoffed it in no time. Then,
pushing by me into the sitting room, it slithered on to my settee
and went to sleep. My two cats came in and were not amused at this
as he was asleep where they always spent the night. I left them to
it and went to bed myself, but I locked my room door just in case
I became a crocodile's dinner in my sleep.
Next morning when I had a look I could not believe my eyes, there
was that huge crocodile cuddled up with my little pussies, Ori and
P.B. all as happy as could be.
Soon the three of them woke up and would you believe it? The cats
started washing the crocodile! I filled a large basin with cat food
and all three ate breakfast at the same time then returned to
settee and went back to sleep.
What was I going to do with my strange guest? Where had it come
from? I rang the University but they knew nothing about the thing.
I was fast running out of cat food so had to drive to the
supermarket to buy lots and lots and lots. Home again and my pets
were still fast asleep. I made several notices which I stuck on
walls and trees all around St Lucia. The notices said........
I waited all day but nobody came to collect the strange creature
that had followed me home. Soon it was awake again and playing wild
chasing games with my cats, running up and down the corridor and
rolling on its back while they danced all over it. You can imagine
just how much the house was shaking but what fun it all was, I
began to think maybe I could enjoy having this new addition to the
family after all.
One very large green crocodile.
I do not know its name.
Please collect between
4 and 5 p.m.
From 149 Ninth Avenue
After school that day Claire, the seven year old girl who lived across the
street, dropped by to see the cats. She was very excited about the
"Did it really follow you home Tom? You're always telling fibs."
I assured her my story was true and she ended up playing hide and
seek with the monster. She it was who gave him his name.
"Actually he is quite a cuddly thing isnt he? Let's call him
So we did there and then.
As the days passed Cuddles became quite useful as, once shopkeepers got
used to him, all I had to do was send him up the road with a large basket
in his mouth, a shopping list pasted on his back, and a bag of money
around his neck. For some strange reason nobody ever stole that money,
Then came the dreadful day when all the trouble started!
I was sitting quietly reading and Cuddles had gone out shopping
when Claire rushed in shouting: "Tom! Tom! Terrible news! The
police have arrested Cuddles!"
You can imagine how quickly I ran up the road after Claire to find
what had happened. At the bus stop stood a large Council bus, two
police cars, an ambulance, and a huge truck with a crane on the
back. Even as I watched Cuddles was lifted into the truck by the
crane as several policemen stood on guard.
I went up to them: "What are you doing with MY crocodile?" I demanded.
"YOUR crocodile?" said an inspector. "Should be ashamed of yourself
keeping such a dangerous animal in a built up area. That horrid monster
has just tried to eat up the bus driver so it did. Quite shook up he is
about it too."
Two ambulance men came out of the bus and carried the driver into their
ambulance. They drove off. This was terrible. Had my friendly pet gone
back to being a savage beast?
"Are you sure it was my crocodile?" I asked the inspector. "Can you see
any others round here, Mate?" replied the policeman. "Anyhow there were
fifty passengers in that bus and they all saw what happened, it was YOUR
crocodile. Maybe well charge you as well. Name and address please, Sir."
I gave him my details. In the end, although they shouted a lot, and waved
their arms, they let me go with a warning to chose pets more carefully in
future. Deary Me, I had kept a savage monster pretending to be nice in my
home, even fed it regularly. How soon would it have been before it ate me
and the cats? Maybe even Claire!
When the police had taken down the stories from all the bus passengers
they got into their cars and drove away with the big truck following them.
All the passengers had to walk for the police forgot to phone for another
bus. They blamed Cuddles for their problems.
"Make it into crocburgers!" shouted one fat man, as he walked
Things really did not look good at all for the huge beast who had come to
my house some nights before. What would they do with him now?
I soon found out poor Cuddles fate. Next day an RSPCA man came to see me.
He told me how the `wicked crocky' was chained to a post in the jail's
swimming pool. All the poor prisoners were very angry as this meant they
could not have their daily swim. Even worse, the annual swimming carnival
was on Saturday and they'd had to cancel it.
Cuddles became the most hated creature in Australia but I still went to
visit him. Poor thing was crying all the time and the police said his
trial would be in three weeks.
Mr. Catt, the RSPCA man, was the only person who reckoned things may not
be as bad as they looked. We'd see when the trial started. And start it
One wet and cold Monday morning the courtroom was crowded with people
waiting to see an evil monster get its just desserts. Luckily, as the
owner of the monster, I had a reserved seat. When I arrived, up came the
RSPCA representative and a little man with a long beard,
"I will be conducting the defence," said Mr. Catt the RSPCA man.
And this is the famous Professor MacGregor from Glasgow, "Don't worry. We
shall get this poor innocent creature off."
They went down to the front of the Court, I sat down and was just getting
comfy when the Court Usher yelled out, "All Rise!"
We quickly shot on to our feet, I can tell you, just in case we were sent
to jail for staying seated.
Into the room came Judge Durance, who was supposed to be the toughest
judge in Australia. He glowered at us all and sat in his throne-like
"All be seated!" shouted the Usher and we all quickly sat down again, just
in case the last person on his feet got arrested.
Judge Durance put his glasses on the tip of his nose, straightened his
wig, glowered at us all again, coughed, and said, "Bring in the prisoner."
Oh, my poor Cuddles! A policemen brought him in on the end of a long steel
chain and, helped by another cop, he stood him up in the dock, fastening
the chain to the bars. Two more police with rifles stood beside the dock
in case Cuddles escaped. He just stood in the dock crying crocodile
The judge hit the table with a wooden mallet that went "BANG!"
"Let us give this horrid villain a fair trial then send him to jail
forever," he smiled.
"Right Your Honour." said the same policeman who had made the arrest,
"We'll soon settle this case and I shall prosecute. Call the first
The Usher yelled for someone called James Lamb, and into the Court Room
came a little man in a brand new Council Uniform. Prompted by Inspector
Lockem, he identified himself as the bus driver.
"It was really a horrible thing that happened, Your Honour. This here
creature got on my bus. I asked it where it was going to and quick as a
flash it jumped on me and started eating me up. If it had not been for the
fifty passengers who came to my rescue, I'd have been a real Lamb dinner I
can tell you."
Everybody started laughing, but the Judge thumped his mallet and yelled,
"Silence in Court or I will jail the lot of you!"
Inspector Lockem stood up saying, "Thank you, Mr. Lamb, you can go now."
"No, he can't!" shouted Mr. Catt the RSPCA man. "I am defending
this poor innocent creature and there are things to be cleared up."
Judge Durance looked very sad. "Oh well, I suppose you better defend the
beast before I send it to jail. Get on with it! We haven't got all day,
Mr. Catt bowed to the Judge. "Your Honour, I call on Professor
MacGregor of Glasgow, an expert on Africa, to question the driver."
The Professor rose to his feet and said, "Ladies and gentlemen,
first a little demonstration."
Turning to Cuddles he said, "Werd dya wan, BUTTUM."
Cuddles suddenly stood up very straight, put one of his front legs
across his breast, and fell on the floor legs up, eyes closed.
"Oh Dear, it's died!" said everybody.
"Silence in Court or else!" shouted Judge Durance, banging away
with his mallet.
"Werd ya wan, CHA," said the Professor. "Cuddles stood up in the
"Now everybody watch this. Werd ya wan HOOCH."
MacGregor started whistling a Highland Fling tune and that
crocodile put one paw on its hip, stuck the other in the air, and
started a wild Scottish dance.
"With the right music, he'll even do ballet," laughed MacGregor.
The crocodile stopped dancing and even Inspector Lockem joined in
the applause and cheers.
BANG BANG BANG went the Judges gavel. "Silence in this Court,
you're all under arrest. Usher call the police!"
"Hang on Judge," said MacGregor. "I shall now explain everything.
Have any of you ever seen a crocodile like this one in Australia
before? No? That's because he comes from Cabombaland in the
middle of Africa. He's a genuine Cabombaland Greeny if ever I saw
The Professor then told us an amazing story. It seems that the
Cabomba tribe were sheep herders. Grass became hard to find so
they, their sheep, and their herd dogs came to this fertile land
with rivers and lakes to keep green grass growing in huge
Trouble is, where there is water in Africa there are crocodiles and
the ones here decided they liked dog meat very much. Sheep they
couldn't stand for the wool got stuck in their teeth. Cabomban
elders worried about what they could get to herd the sheep until
some body said, "Why not train the crocodiles?"
And so they did. Over many years, they taught the beasts that they
must always obey human commands. Soon they had sheep crocs that
were much better than the dogs.
They trained them even more and they learned anything they were
taught. Two or more pushing a canoe could make it speed up a river,
while on land people sitting on their backs were quickly
transported from place to place.
They taught them to dance, to harvest crops, even used them as
racing crocodiles at Saturday race meetings.
The crocodiles loved human company and every Cabomban had several
around the place. Everybody was happy and Cabombaland is still a
great place to live. That is unless you happen to be a dog."
"So thats my story," said Professor MacGregor some time later
"Now you, bus-driver Lamb, can you remember what you said to this
beastie when it got on your bus?"
Mr. Lamb rose to his feet. "Not a problem Mate, same as I always
says to folks gettin on. `Where d'ya wanna go?'"
The Judge thumped his mallet, "That settles it. Performing
crocodile from Africa or no, this thing is guilty. "Fifty Years!"
MacGregor said, "Respectfully Your Honour, the Jury has still to
give its verdict, and I've yet to finish my evidence. If you don't
let us do our jobs, we'll have YOU arrested for contempt of Court."
Judge Durance got very red in the face and went "Splither,
Splother, Sloother. Sorry let the trial continue, but...make it
quick. It's nearly lunch time."
He didnt even bang his mallet, he was so shook up.
Professor MacGregor smiled at Mr. Lamb "My friend, let me give you
a lesson in Cabomba language. You'll recall whenever I gave the
crocodile an order, I said, `Werd dya wan', which means `Excuse me
please.' Now na means eat and go means me and that explains what
happened. Just remember this poor crocodile saw the first bus it
had ever seen. Curious it got on and you, like the highly trained
driver you are, asked your usual question, `Where dya wanna go?'
Trouble is what you said was Cabomban for `Excuse me, please eat
me.' And this beastie, thats trained to obey all human commands,
and knows no English, had to eat you even though it didn't want to.
Professor MacGregor turned to the Jury, "Ladies and gentlemen, from
my evidence you can see this poor beast is quite innocent of any
crime. I rest my case."
Immediately all the members of the jury stood up and said, "Not
Judge Durance banged his mallet, "Right now I can pass sentence 75
"You can't do that, you silly old man," laughed Mr Catt the RSPCA
man. "This crocodile is now free to go home so get lost."
So it was that I took Cuddles the crocodile home in a taxi truck.
He was welcomed by Claire and the two cats and soon afterwards
Professor Macgregor and Mr. Catt came by. We had a marvellous
party that lasted until late.
Cuddles did dances from all over the world, Professor MacGregor
sang Scottish songs, and we all ended up very tired but very happy.
I now make lots of money as I put Cuddles on television, I need it
as he eats so much. He even has a fan club with Inspector Lockem as
President and always travels free on Mr. Lamb's bus.
So all ended well but there remains one mystery. Where did Cuddles
We'll probably never know the truth but there was a student at the
University from Cabombaland who lived in St Lucia while he was
here. Maybe Cuddles strayed and had not been found by the time
this chap went home and became President. Who knows?
OUR WORLD IS FULL OF MYSTERIES
Copyright (C) 1998; Tom McRae
Published with kind permission of Tom McRae, Brisbane, Australia
[Scots in New Scotland (Nova Scotia)]
[Scottish Culture & Heritage: Scotland & New Scotland]
[New Scotland (Nova Scotia)]
[Scottish Clan System]
[Clan MacRae Home Page]
Copyright (C) 1996 * All Rights Reserved
[CCN Culture & Heritage]