Today, the last day of March, is the traditional Snake-whacking Day in East Kent, and it is still commemorated by the villagers of Kingsdown who, fortified by pints of beer from the King's Head, go out to find and whack as many snakes as possible before dusk. Presumably the tradition arose to use the cool early spring to be able to catch snakes before they get warm enough to move quickly, and - more importantly - before the beastly things can breed the next generation. Our own team could only find slow worms at first, but at least we were able to practice, although those of us who had drunk too much too quickly were not much good at aiming. At least two of the party were hit by their mates, and had to go off for treatment. I won't show pictures after the whacking, as it may offend animal rights people. After a while, the real snakes were found (we had set traps called refugia for them) and the appropriate treatment was meted on them. They look really evil, with the red eye and vicious zigzags - and this one was nearly a foot long! I understand that the tradition has been followed in parts of the US since the seventeenth century, although here the chosen day is May 10th.