Man v Snail



“Mummy, in a race between a snail and Usain Bolt, who do you think would win?”

“The snail.”


“Usain Bolt would be rubbish at sliming along really slowly. The snail would win for sure.”

Perplexed silence follows this. I take pity.

“This is a sliming-slowly-up-the-doorframe race, right?”

“NO! A RUNNING race.”

“Oh! Well of COURSE Usain Bolt would win a running race. It’s just, he’d be rubbish at sliming up a doorframe. He wouldn’t be able to hold on.”

I *was* going to blog about Older and Younger Sons’ amazing experience of singing with the Winchester Cathedral choristers at the weekend. But then Younger Son asked this question, and I felt that it had to be addressed.


His question was based on the unthinking assumption of Usain Bolt’s uber-menschness. He’s only six, so fair enough. But we’re grown-ups, and we should be able to consider it quite differently. Why not assume that the SNAIL was the uber-mensch (uber-shneck, whatever) here? Snails are geniuses. These blobby little squidgers with their pulsing horns and hard curly houses do the most staggering things with the slimy smallness that they possess. They have evolved and thrived magnificently: just ask all the hostas and sedums down the millennia that they have dispatched. And they can hang upside down on ceilings. AND they’ve bothered to design stupendously pretty shells. In the event of global disaster, I’d back the snail’s chances over Lightning and his gold Nikes every time. Slugs not so much, but that’s personal. (It is just me, or have slugs got very expensive on Amazon recently?)

Now, that question you’ve been asking yourself. What was it again? Try it from a different angle. You may reach a surprising answer, though not necessarily encompassing molluscs.

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