You can't say the word Potter without meaning Harry and thinking J.K.Rowling these days can you, and in the week when J.K.R.'s first novel for adults, The Casual Vacancy, hits the shelves I will forgive you for thinking I am about to write more on that subject. Sorry, but I'm not, even though I do have the book ready and waiting on my Kindle because I like the sound of it, but no this is all about Otters, and that was the nearest pun I could come up with at 8pm on a Sunday evening with Episode Two of Downton Abbey only an hour away.
And in fact I had actually been thinking about Terry Nutkins...sorry this is getting more confusing by the minute, I can see that.
Whenever I hear the name Terry Nutkins I think of dolphins, whilst everyone else, including Miriam Darlington in her wonderfully restorative book Otter Country, is probably thinking about otters, because Terry Nutkins was the young lad who helped care for Gavin Maxwell's otters,
'Nutkins himself lost two fingers, caught a gangrene infection and was hospitalised due to the savage and unpredictable side of Edal's nature...'
The life of Gavin Maxwell and the otters is recounted in Gavin Maxwell's memoir Ring of Bright Water, and in a week when I kept on thinking about Terry Nutkins (and the dolphins) how coincidentally strange and sad when news came of Terry's death from leukaemia at the age of sixty-six, and this when I really hadn't thought or heard a word about him for goodness knows how long.
And in a week when I and the rest of the Great Ormond Street October 1972 set will be meeting in London from all corners of the world to celebrate forty years in nursing, I had this dim flicker of a recollection that many years ago (1972-73 to be almost exact) my student nurse room mate knew someone who knew someone (etc) who knew Terry Nutkins, and in my mind was lodged this idea that she had gone to meet him at a dolphinarium in London's Oxford Street. And surely I remember walking past it...
But I must have dreamt this... a dolphinarium in Oxford Street?
How can this be??
How on earth would you get dolphins to Central London and Oxford Street in the first place??
What about the water??
I kept rejecting the whole notion as a moment of bizarre and misplaced recall until I settled it once and for all and googled it..
'London Dolphinarium was located at number 65 Oxford Street on the corner of Great Portland Street and Oxford Street. It was owned by a company called Pleasurama. It opened in 1971 and closed in 1973. The tank was 3m deep, 14m long and 5m wide. The star attractions were Bonnie and Clyde, two dolphins. They were also joined by sea lions and penguins. A man called Terry Nutkins was the Assistant General Manager of the dolphinarium (who helped found it) and David Taylor was the original "Zoovet".'
Good, that's sorted then and I am sure you will be delighted that I am now resting easy about my potentially faulty recall, whilst never ceasing to be amazed at the chain reaction of memories triggered by one line in one book.
More thoughts, slightly less tangental and hopefully less confused, about Otter Country by Miriam Darlington coming soon.