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We guessed that after a few weeks of interaction with the German, Oscar had got to know him, as strange as that sounds, whereas we were only on nodding, not hugging, terms yet. ” To be honest, we had never really thought much about octopuses until we read a feature, ironically, just before our Greek holiday.

We could see him curled up inside the lair, often one eye visible, guarding his turf, but nothing else was stirring. It was about a fascinating new book called (Harper Collins) by Peter Godfrey-Smith, full of anecdotes that shed light on this amazing creature that has the intelligence roughly of a dog or a three-year-old child ‒ and the mischief to match.

The octopus is capable of playing, recognising different humans, as well as other octopuses; it can ‘see’ through its skin and change its shape and colour according to its moods.

Obsessions can grow on long indolent holidays when the imagination is given a long rein.’ Jim and I looked at each other as we splashed about in the warm clear water.We thought it must be a childish wind-up, but the father dived in with a snorkel mask on and after a while the whole family were in a circle, the kids getting fizzy with excitement.And Godfrey-Smith shows that they’re still one of the smartest, but with their eight legs, three hearts and blue/green blood, he also describes them as the “closest we will come to meeting an intelligent alien”.Octopuses inspired the imagination of mankind long before we understood much about them.Back on the beach we chatted to the German guy for a while about octopuses.

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