Last night, on a walk with the dug, I came across a wee hedgehog. The dug wasn’t impressed, just having a quick sniff while the creature was huddled into a ball. It was the first time I’d ever seen one in real life, I think.

I expected them to have formidable spines like a porcupine, but it was more like round hairbrush, with the tips of its bristles sort of looking like they’d been dyed blonde.

We continued our walk but as I looked back to see if the thing was okay, it bolted across the grass and disappeared under a hedge about fifty yards away in seconds. I’d never seen a hedgehog run, I thought they just sauntered about very slowly.

They don’t look like they’re built for speed at all, but this thing moved like hot, fresh manure off a farmer’s shovel.

I’ve never seen anything like it in my life and it really took me aback. I swear I could hear the grass rustling and the air whooshing around as it sped away. ‘Did you see that?’ I said to the distinctly unimpressed dug.

I arrived back home, visibly shaken by what I’d witnessed. My world had been turned upside down. What else could I have been wrong about all this time?

‘Saw a hedgehog there,’ I said to my girlfriend. ‘That’s nice,’ she said. ‘It ran dead fast,’ I said to her, having to sit down as I went over the memory again and again. Replaying it in my head, looking for some detail I’d maybe missed in the moment.

Was it even definitely a hedgehog? I didn’t see its face. It could’ve been a mutant, spiny rat. They can run fast.

‘Are you awrite?’ my girlfriend asked me as I stared, wide-eyed, into space. ‘I cannae believe how fast that hing moved,’ I said. ‘I don’t think that’s normal for hedgehogs. It wisnae natural.’

My girlfriend tapped something on her phone without looking up at me.

‘What are you doing?’ I asked. ‘Googling it,’ she replied. I was annoyed I hadn’t thought to do this myself. ‘What does it say?’

‘It says aye, hedgehogs can run fast in short bursts. That’s why they made Sonic a hedgehog. They run about five miles an hour but it looks faster cause they’re so wee.’

Sonic the Hedgehog, the famous blue hedgehog from the video games, is apparently the fastest thing ever.

Why hadn’t I thought to put two and two together here. Obviously they’d be fast. Why else would they have made Sonic a hedgehog?

I started to remember another animal-based event from my childhood which gave me a similar feeling to the one I had now. It wasn’t until I was twelve or so that I first laid eyes upon a snail.

Years before this, I’d asked my maw why we didn’t get snails in Scotland as I’d never seen one before and was reading a book about insects.

‘Cause they only live down south where it’s a wee bit warmer,’ she said. Made perfect sense to me at the time. Then one day, after a torrential summer downpour, I noticed half a dozen snails crawling about just outside the back door.

I ran to my maw and told her to come and see. ‘I thought you only got snails in England, that’s weird,’ she said. It was weird. At school the next day I told my pals I’d saw some snails. ‘So?’ was their reply. ‘Ye see them aw the time.’ I mentioned it to other people, they all said the same thing. Snails had always been in Scotland. I must’ve just been mistaken.

A few years later again, I said to my maw that I thought snails only lived in England to see what she’d say, to see if she’d lie. ‘Naw, they’ve always been here,’ she said. ‘But you told me they didn’t,’ I replied, confused. ‘Naw I didnae.’

Seems strange, and almost impossible, that I would go the first twelve or so years of my life without ever seeing a creature that’s always been here and is very common.

I’ve written briefly about this before, about how it’s maybe to do with the ‘Mandela Effect’, the phenomenon of groups of people collectively misremembering events and facts, like how loads of people swear they remember watching the funeral of Nelson Mandela on the telly back in the 80s even though he actually died in 2013.

Explanations for this range from time-travellers meddling with the past to alternate universes leaking into our own. It’s all a bit far-out sounding.

For me, what would explain me being totally unaware that hedgehogs can run fast and that snails do actually live in Scotland would be that everyone in the world is just trying to constantly bam me up.