‘Anyway, these she was, naked and poised, with the wallaby in her left hand and her favourite grouting tool clasped firmly between her succulent thighs. Immediately I reached for my Etch-a-Sketch to capture the moment for posterity. However, the moon disappeared behind a cloud and the moment was gone… forever. I knew that I had missed my chance and regretted it profoundly.’ (William Wordsworth – Diaries: June 23rd, 1820)
In nature-watching circles, the act of a naked chiropodist grouting a wallaby by moonlight is – as you know – still widely disputed. Many have claimed to have witnessed the act, but no, genuine and verifiable pictures have ever been produced.
There is the famous drawing by Bicuspid Stovepipe, made in the Bilston forest in 1768, of what he claimed to be several recently-qualified naked female chiropodists, each with a wallaby and a grouter, poised for action. However, most scholars these days put this down to either wishful-thinking on Stovepipe’s part, or his over-indulgence in mind-altering stick-whittling earlier in the same evening.
Then there are the hazy blurred photographs of recent years. Pictures we have all grown tired of seeing on the many, many, TV programmes that have claimed to reveal the ‘truth’ - once and for all - about naked chiropodists engaging in wallaby grouting. The most famous one – known as ‘The Redditch Ring Road Chiropodist’ - purportedly shows a full-frontal naked chiropodist grouting a brace of prime wallabies. However, using sophisticated image enhancement techniques this was revealed to be a forgery over a decade ago. It is actually a photograph of a naked librarian painting double yellow lines down a stockbroker in a fully-consensual act which, while not an officially recognised perversion or fetish, need not detain us any longer.
The other most-widely seen photograph – ‘The Wolverhampton Wallaby-Grouter’ – does indeed show a naked chiropodist busy grouting, but the animal clutched so firmly in her grouting gloves is in the un-doctored original photograph – as usual – merely a marmoset.
Therefore, despite Wordsworth’s claim, until credible and irrefutable documentary evidence exists the ‘naked chiropodist grouting a wallaby’ will have to remain firmly in the realms of folklore.