Wolf Moon: The Ranulph Fables Episode 6

By Anne Paton-Cragg


The story so far

New to Portsmouth, Ranulph the wolf lodges with feisty fox Trixie, and the two of them have a stall selling “wild food wraps” on the seafront. Ranulph is helping Trixie with her literacy skills in exchange for support she gave him with his food hygiene qualification.  Ranulph’s new girlfriend, Orla, is a solace and a distraction from the stresses of business. In this episode, interlopers barge in on a barbeque, but the furry four win the day.


Dramatis Personae

RANULPH, a wolf

TOD, a wily fox

TRIXIE, a fox, Tod’s sister

ORLA, a wolf-husky cross, Ranulph’s girlfriend


Episode 6: Full Moon BBQ

Tod was stuffing rabbit entrails into a bin bag. ‘That’s a fetching  bonnet, sis.’

Trixie slammed her knife into a fresh onion and glared beneath the plastic hat she now wore in the kitchen. One ear was poking out.

‘You’re supposed to use the brown chopping board for veg.’ I reminded her. ‘The red one’s for raw meat.’

‘Our Prof has a PhD in food hygiene,’ said Tod.

Trixie sneezed and dashed a paw across her nose. ‘It was a Level 2 certificate Ranulph did. I did Level 3.’ She wiped her paw on her apron, saw me looking and went to the sink.

Tod pointed at the laminated instructions for handwashing above the taps. ‘What’s that in aid of?’

‘It’s to look good when we get inspected,’ I said. The week before, a journalist from the News had interviewed Trixie. “Wild about Wraps,” was the headline, with a photo of satisfied customers munching our products. A visitation from the council was surely imminent.

‘You’ll be OK on pest control,’ was Tod’s next sally. ‘The rats know they’d go straight in the freezer.’

Trixie corralled the chopped onion into a tray full of tomato slices. ‘That freezer needs sorting quick smart.  We need two, Ranulph. We can keep the one for foraged meat in your bedroom. The EHO won’t ask to go there.’

I didn’t fancy a chest freezer taking up half my space and keeping me awake with its humming.  But I was only a lodger.

‘What’s an EHO?’ said Tod.

‘Environmental Health Officer,’ Trixie and I chorused.

Tod leaned against the controversial freezer and rolled a cigarette. ‘You know what you should do? Have a barbeque. Clear the decks.’

‘Good notion,’ I said.

Trixie clapped her paws. ‘Let’s do it.’


When I told Orla, she was more excited than we were. She turned out to have a talent for artwork and made striking posters depicting a hog under a full moon.

Full moon HOG roast


Stuff your face for £10

This Saturday 8 till L8

All are welcome

Cash only

‘That’s not how you spell late,’ said Trixie.

‘I saw it on a poster for a club,’ said Orla. You write it like that to show it’s going to be fun.

Trixie narrowed her eyes.


‘ Free range,’ Tod told us as we set up the hog for the roast. ‘Fella I know won it in a meat raffle.’

‘Free range?’ said Orla.

‘It means they’re not shut in cages like some poor animals are,’ said Trixie. ‘These humans, they do some bad things.’

Tod had slung the pig on a spit with extra strapping to stop it flopping about when it turned. I didn’t ask where he had hired the equipment. Beside it, we set up the barbeque.

Trixie eyed the pig critically. ‘It’s  small.’

‘This baby will serve a good thirty mouths,’ said Tod. ‘We don’t want to ruin their appetite for the wild game.’

Orla’s brow wrinkled. ‘Is it a baby?’

Trixie and Tod exchanged glances. ‘When babies are this weight the sows will worry,’ Tod quipped.

‘We need a small pig because they take a long time to cook,’ I said.  ‘Better get started.’

Orla ran off and started playing ball with some people. I noticed with surprise that they had no clothes on.

‘It’s a nudist beach,’ said Trixie.

‘Naturist,’ Tod corrected her.

‘Never could see the point of clothes for swimming,’ I said. ‘I understand if you haven’t got fur you need a bit of insulation, but for going in the water….’

Trixie gave the coals a savage poke. ‘They’re ashamed of their bodies.’

Her assessment didn’t accord with my observations in Palmerston Road on the rare nights I ventured out. Humans out drinking seemed keen on self-display. Only certain bits, perhaps.


It wasn’t long before the rotating pig started to smell good. We cracked open a couple of beers. The descending sun was turning red. Small waves sighed over rattling pebbles on the shifting shoreline. It was a perfect night for a barbeque. We had set up behind a stone structure which would shield us from any south-westerlies that might start up after dusk.

‘Fancy a dip?’ said Orla.

After our swim we were greeted by the unedifying sight of two naked humans warming themselves beside the hog roast. One moved away as we shook the water off our fur.

‘Mind those sausages,’ said Tod.

Trixie rolled her eyes. The men’s genitals did look remarkably like sausages. Dangling about, not tucked away like other animals’.

‘Are you staying for the barbeque?’ Orla asked the naturists.

’All are Welcome,’ the taller naturist read from Orla’s poster. ‘You normally see that outside churches.’

It didn’t seem quite right for a nudist hog roast but what did I know about church?

‘Actually,’ he went on, ‘we’re here for the swim. Portsmouth Naturist Night Swimmers. But we might join you later.’

‘Come on,’ I said to Orla ‘We’d better get the game from the fridge.’


It was good to run together under the luminous dusk sky. We returned from Trixie’s den at a more sedate pace, bearing an assortment of wild game. There was now a large crowd around the barbeque. Some dogs were scrapping and the humans were shouting and laughing. In the distance, a crowd of naked people splashed in the water.

‘Sooner them than me,’ said a chunky woman with  piercings. ‘September evenings are cold.’

‘Nice night for a fire,’ said Trixie. ‘The hog’s nearly ready. Everyone paid?’

Tod went round with a bucket, then sat down to count the takings. Trixie watched him, I noticed.

‘What are the vegetarians going to eat?’ the woman with piercings wanted to know.

‘No problem at all,’ I said. ‘Orla, here, specialises in vegetarian food.’

‘Are the vegetables going on the grill with the meat?’ said the piercings woman. Kelly, her name was. ‘ I like to keep my food separate.’

‘Can’t you read?’ Trixie pointed at the poster. ‘It says hog roast. Right there. What’s up with you vegetarians? Hog. H-O-G. That spells pig.’

Means pig,’ said Orla.

‘It says “all are welcome,” Kelly retorted.

Suddenly I realised where I’d seen her before. The Find your Voice workshop where I’d met my lovely Orla. Kelly had been in the tenor section.

‘Kelly, why don’t you organise some singing?’ I said. ‘The moon’s up. If you keep everyone happy till the meat’s ready we’ll give you free food. Vegetarian food.

‘Cool,’ she said.  ‘Hey guys, let’s have some music. I know just the song for tonight.’

Under her leadership, canine and human voices swelled in glorious harmony. Orla looked over at me, eyes shining. It was our song, “ Silver Waves Under the Moon”, and no veto on howling. Venus had appeared in the dark blue sky.

Forced to concentrate on squirrel kebabs, I couldn’t participate fully in the howling relay that followed “Silver Waves”. Some of the humans were emulating the dogs with attempts at howls, and Kelly made no objection. I shoved the meat around on the grill, giving voice occasionally. More stars appeared. Everyone was happy.

But not for long.

‘What’s this racket?’ A dripping  naturist with a hairy chest and big black spectacles was standing over Tod. ‘Some of us are here for a peaceful swim.’ he said in a commanding voice.

Tod lit a fag from the coals. ‘You go and have your swim, squire.’

‘I’m Eustace Crumhorn,  president of Pompey Naturist Night Swimmers. We’ve had our swim, thank you very much. The atmosphere was ruined by your mindless revelry.’

More naked humans came towards us, heads lowered, as if they were about to charge.

‘There was a time when we could enjoy ourselves free from prying eyes,’ said the president. ‘Not only do you Textiles spoil the natural beauty of the beach, you pollute the air with your meat and cigarettes. Furthermore, your party has become rowdy.’

The naturists were standing around the barbeque, arms folded, manly parts at eye level.

Trixie giggled. ’I wish they’d sit down.’

A slight man with a goatee stepped forward.  ‘This operation is highly irregular. No sink. No thermometers. You dropped some ash on that pig you’re roasting, Chef.’

Trixie’s giggles redoubled.

‘You’ll find there is no cause for merriment, Miss,’ said Eustace Crumhorn.  ‘My friend here is an Environmental Health Officer.’

‘What kind of meat is in those kebabs?’ said the EHO.

Tod turned, pointing his fork. ‘What’s it to you?’

‘Oho! Chef is a fox!’

Tod plunged his fork into the pebbles. ‘ Well-observed Mister. Where’s your badge?’

‘In the car.’

‘You gonna go and get it?’

To my astonishment, the EHO and the PNNS president hurried towards the car park.

‘Peaceful evening swim,’ Tod quoted. ‘Going a funny way about it. Come on, Trix, dish out the game while I cut up this hog.’

Trills and howls gave way to chomps and burps. We’d finished the kebabs and were tucking into the hog when four figures appeared in the distance. The EHO and the president of PNNS, flanked by two policemen.

‘Hide the bucket!’ Trixie hissed, taking down the poster.

‘What bucket?’ I said.

‘The takings, numbskull!’

‘Can you take this somewhere safe?’ I muttered to Orla. She scampered off towards the houseboat where her folks lived.

‘Good evening. What’s all this then?’

‘Hog roast,’  said Trixie, ‘Inspector.’

Officer will do. Do these two men belong to your party?’

‘Definitely not,’ said Tod.

The PNNS Swimmers were still naked, except for the EHO badge gracing Derek’s chest. The cops must have intercepted them in the car park.

‘Who’s in charge here?’ said the second policeman.

‘We’re only having a camp fire and a sing-song, Officer,’ I said. ‘Just friends together.’

The policeman surveyed the assembly. ‘This lot don’t look like boy scouts to me. A disturbance was reported. And nudists in the car park, contrary to regulations.’

‘I don’t know anything about the naturists, Officer. Everything here,’ I spread my front paws wide apart, ’is legal and above-board.’

‘Has money changed hands?’

‘Not to my knowledge.’

He checked his watch, scratched his chin. ‘Make sure there’s no more noise. And clear up properly.’

‘Yessir.’ Tod gave an exaggerated salute.

‘And as for you two,’ the  first policeman addressed the PNNS President and the EHO. ‘We’ll see you to your cars.’

Between them, all these policemen and naturists had put the dampers on the party.

‘I’ll go and get the takings,’ I said to Trixie as we watched the EHO and the President being marched away.


I found Orla on the deck of her houseboat.  She’d put the money under the nearest rowing boat and was singing softly beneath a line of washing.  The moon made a shimmering, shivering path on the water.

Silver waves under the moon,’ Orla crooned in my ear.

I stroked her snowy cheek. ‘That magic moonlit night when I met you.’

Our love, so young, so new-oo-oO-OO.’ Our voices blended and soared in a glorious howl.


This was the final installment of the Wolf Moon stories on S&C. Read them all here.


Image by Kurt Klement from Pixabay.