This Charming Man.
The nearby village of Willaston has played host for the last three decades to the World Worm Charming Championships. It is a prestigious event covered by the world's most renowned media operators, although Sky haven't yet sullied it with huge cash injections and an insistence on it being held at a convenient for advertisers slot or formulated a short snappy version to be played in pyjamas, so wherever you are in the world you should be able to view my fellow combatants and me in competition, probably in the "And finally..." bit.
How does it work? Simple; you have half an hour to get as many worms out of a 3m square plot of primary school playing field (yes, there IS actually one left without a housing estate on it) as possible without digging a hole or using water or other forms of chemical inducement. The favoured method seems to be to somehow mimic the sound of rainfall falling on the earth and indeed, watch gulls and other birds in your own garden and you will often see them waddling about on the spot doing just that. A brand new large garden fork has been purchased and I have sawn notches into a piece of 1" x 1" timber batten I had kept (I just KNEW it would come in useful. SEE? That's what sheds are for) to draw along the handle of the fork while it is stuck in the ground, a practice known as "fiddling". So far my training sessions have yielded precisely this many worms: 0. I'm hoping it's going to chuck it down and save me the bother. I have done this before, though, much more successfully. Many years ago while on holiday in Denmark, my then father-in-law and I were discussing obtaining worms for fishing bait with our hosts. Our hosts' daughter's certifiable boyfriend, Per, had the answer, which he swore blind worked: two garden forks, stuck in the lawn several feet apart and several yards of electrical cable. With a plug on the end. Health and safety be damned. We naturally stood off the lawn and made sure it wasn't raining when he flicked the switch but it took about 30 seconds until the poor buggers came flying out. I'm sure this method isn't allowed on Saturday.
Apparently the worms respond well to music but not, as one would assume, the calming strains of something pastoral or soothing. No, apparently they prefer the driving rhythms of rock and roll. Splendid. I couldn't find anything with forks in it and there's no way I'm playing that load of old dreary from The Smiths. Another garden implement then...