Is Tufty a ninja?

The Tufty Club badge

The one time that I really get to read the newspaper is while we’re driving somewhere. Well, okay, while Jane is driving somewhere. Yesterday, while journeying to Cellardyke, I was surprised to read this article: Stray dog killed by gang of hungry squirrels by Margaret Neighbour. (When I needed a neighbour, were you there? No, I was being maulled by squirrels.)

A gang of bloodthirsty squirrels have attacked and killed a large stray dog in a park in eastern Russia, it was reported yesterday.

Starvation caused by a severe pine cone shortage was blamed for pushing the black squirrels to extreme measures.

That’s quite a leap, from nibbling on pine cones to killing a dog and eating it. Until you read it again and realise that these were no ordinary squirrels. They weren’t the red or grey squirrels that you get in the UK, but elite, black ninja squirrels!

“They literally gutted the dog,” Anastasia Trubitsina, a journalist, said. “When they saw the men, they scattered in different directions, taking pieces of their kill away with them.”

I hope they looked both ways before crossing any roads.

Local people said there had been no pine cones this year in nearby woodland and one man blamed this for the squirrels’ aggressive behaviour.

“The little beasts are agitated because they have nothing to eat,” he added.

A good theory, but if these really were ninja squirrels then I’m not so sure with one man‘s diagnosis. I went in search of further proof. If I could prove that this is the kind of activities that ninjas take part in then it wouldn’t be too difficult to conclude that these were indeed specially trained ninja squirrels.

I didn’t have to go far. Typing ‘ninja’ into Google UK the first link is to a site called “Real Ultimate Power: The Official Ninja Webpage“.

Wow! Not just any ninja-related website. But the official ninja webpage. That has to be an authority on what ninjas are like. I read on with eagerness:

Hi, this site is all about ninjas, REAL NINJAS. This site is awesome. My name is Robert and I can’t stop thinking about ninjas. These guys are cool; and by cool, I mean totally sweet.


  1. Ninjas are mammals.
  2. Ninjas fight ALL the time.
  3. The purpose of the ninja is to flip out and kill people.

I’m not surprised that he can’t stop thinking about ninjas, he runs the world authority website about all things ninja. It’s like it’s almost his job to be obsessed with ninjas. And well, quite frankly, if he’s not then perhaps he ought to think about passing on the web building role to someone with a little more commitment.

These three facts fascinated me. Facts that seemed somewhat familiar: mammals, fighting mammals at that, that flip out and kill other mammals. I read on:


Ninjas can kill anyone they want! Ninjas cut off heads ALL the time and don’t even think twice about it. These guys are so crazy and awesome that they flip out ALL the time. I heard that there was this ninja who was eating at a diner. And when some dude dropped a spoon the ninja killed the whole town. My friend Mark said that he saw a ninja totally uppercut some kid just because the kid opened a window.

I don’t think that I need to go on. I think that’s proof enough: Tufty’s Russian cousins are dangerous and efficient ninja squirrel killing machines.

The order of the Narnia books

Poster for The Chronicles of Narnia film
Film poster for The Chronicles of Narnia, from the official Disney Narnia website.

Lying in bed this morning, listening to Radio 4 the presenter spoke about the film The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, which opens this later week, as being the first book in The Chronicles of Narnia.

Now that woke me up! “No it’s not!” I said to the radio, sitting up in bed. “It was the first written,” said I, “but it’s not the first chronologically.” But the radio presenter wasn’t listening to me, and ploughed on.

I found a very good internet article entitled What Order Should I Read the Narnia Books in (And Does It Matter?), from which this is the opening section:

1: Chronology vs Publication

C.S Lewis’s famous series of children’s stories were published between 1950 and 1956, in the following order:

  1. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (1950)
  2. Prince Caspian(1951)
  3. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (1952)
  4. The Silver Chair (1953)
  5. The Horse and His Boy (1954)
  6. The Magicians Nephew(1955)
  7. The Last Battle (1956)

All current editions of the books, however, number them in a slightly different order:

  1. The Magicians Nephew
  2. The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe
  3. The Horse and His Boy
  4. Prince Caspian
  5. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
  6. The Silver Chair
  7. The Last Battle

This order reflects the chronological sequence of events in the books themselves.

Lewis expressed a mild preference for this second, chronological order. In a letter written in 1957 to an American boy named Laurence, he wrote the following:

“I think I agree with your order [i.e. chronological] for reading the books more than with your mother’s. The series was not planned beforehand as she thinks. When I wrote The Lion I did not know I was going to write any more. Then I wrote P. Caspian as a sequel and still didn’t think there would be any more, and when I had done The Voyage I felt quite sure it would be the last. But I found as I was wrong. So perhaps it does not matter very much in which order anyone read them. I’m not even sure that all the others were written in the same order in which they were published.”

Quoted in Letters to Children

… The case for reading the books in chronological order is the self-evident one: it makes more sense, particularly for children, to read a series of stories in the order in which they happened.

So there you have it. If they are planning on making films of all seven books then it looks like they’re taking a cue from George Lucas and making them out of sequence.