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Yes, I know they eat the lettuces but I love them. It’s the form of their shells that appeals to me and I approve of their sexual arrangements too. How sensible to be able switch gender at the drop of a hat and take advantage of every opportunity that comes their way. It’s called sequential hermaphroditism. But enough of the technical stuff.

Several years back I was commissioned to do a little painting of a snail with a frog messenger riding on its back. Now, I do like to get things right so I went hunting for an unoccupied shell to use as a reference. Oddly, I couldn’t find one so I made do with a wrecked old timer, hibernating behind a thick and dried operculum. It clearly wasn’t going to go anywhere very fast, or so I thought. Back in the studio I made a nice little frog out of plasticine and placed it on top of the snail before nipping out to make a cup of tea, prior to drawing. I was really only gone for a few moments and just got back in time. Old Rip Van Winkle was off at a lick and disappearing over the edge of the table with its jockey still firmly in place. They’re livelier than we think.

Snails on Hen Night in Brighton by Diz Wallis © Diz Wallis

Snails are fun. Here are a few that have been out on a hen night in Brighton. Well, they may have started out as hens and some may have turned into stags before the night was through – or vice versa if their reputation is anything to go by. Whatever, they have clearly had a wonderful time. Babs took off her shell and was mistaken for a slug. Gloria took something she shouldn’t have and had an epiphany on the beach. Yep, snails are fun.