In those days, you might take any animal for a walk on a lead and no one would raise a single eyebrow. Indeed, you may well receive a pleasant greeting.
“Good day, Mr Bosanquet. I see you’re out with your python.”
“Indeed not, sir,” you say. “This is, in fact, an anaconda. From South America, don’t you know? Far more lethal.”
And they walk up to you and your animal in the street, or the park, or wherever you may be, and ask questions of you.
“Is it a boy or a girl?”
“They’re not really called boys or girls,” you say. “It’s a female. The females grow some three feet longer than the males and have a yellowy hue.”
“What’s her name?” They say, tickling her under the chin.
“Oh, Anna,” you say, slightly embarrassed. “As in Anna Anaconda. A bit obvious really.”
And they stroke the top of her head or her long sleek back before asking further questions.
“What’s that great lump in her side, sir?”
“She ate a child. Near the jetty in the park,” you say.
“Do you mean the jetty near the tearooms, or the one where the recreational boats are moored?”
“The one near the tearooms,” you say.
“Ah, they make such commendable comestibles, do they not, sir?” they say. “But what kind of child was it?”
“Boy,” you say. “About four, I think.”
“Quite young,” they say.
“No,” you say chuckling, “I meant she caught him about four o’clock this afternoon.”
And they laugh at the misunderstanding. “Children are thicker on the ground at that time,” they say.
And you agree.
“Well, good day, Mr Bosanquet,” they say, raising their hat. “Splendid to meet you and Anna.”
And they walk on. If they’re lucky.