Lines from Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows remain fresh forty years after the first reading. The ever buoyant Rat and the depressive pessimist Mole have gone to Mole’s house, from which Mole has been absent for some time. They make a good fist of restoring it to a homely condition, but Mole is then hit by a dark wave.
Mole promptly had another fit of the blues, dropping down on a couch in dark despair and burying his face in his duster. “Rat,” he moaned, “how about your supper, you poor, cold, hungry, weary animal? I’ve nothing to give you – nothing – not a crumb!”
“What a fellow you are for giving in!” said the Rat reproachfully. “Why, only just now I saw a sardine-opener on the kitchen dresser, quite distinctly; and everybody knows that means there are sardines about somewhere in the neighbourhood. Rouse yourself! pull yourself together, and come with me and forage.”
They went and foraged accordingly, hunting through every cupboard and turning out every drawer. The result was not so very depressing after all, though of course it might have been better; a tin of sardines, a box of captain’s biscuits, nearly full, and a German sausage encased in silver paper.
“There’s a banquet for you!” observed the Rat, as he arranged the table. “I know some animals who would give their ears to be sitting down to supper with us to-night!”
“No bread!” groaned the Mole dolorously; “no butter, no–”
“No pate de foie gras, no champagne!” continued the Rat, grinning. “And that reminds me, what’s that little door at the end of the passage? Your cellar, of course! Every luxury in this house! Just you wait a minute.”
He made for the cellar-door, and presently reappeared, somewhat dusty, with a bottle of beer in each paw and another under each arm, “Self-indulgent beggar you seem to be, Mole,” he observed. “Deny yourself nothing. This is really the jolliest little place I ever was in.
As one of a Moleish rather than a rodentine persuasion, there is a tendency to note the half empty glasses, to see the cloud around every silver lining. There are Rat moments, particularly when it comes to foraging for something for supper, but perspectives on the world generally tend to be inclined towards the attitude of Mole.
But today was a Ratty day. Prompted by economic circumstances to sort through every savings book and policy, to search for forgotten balances, there was a moment of sardines, biscuits, sausage and beer. A building society book, unopened for five years, revealed a balance of €300.85; certainly, not foie gras and champagne, but enough to prompt a sense of jollity.