Saturday, 26 February 2011

More than you need to know about this subject

Shark, Tiger and Squirrel bound downstairs in a great excited hurry, and tell me they have a new pet.

My heart freezes, and if you knew what happened to the old pet, your heart would freeze too.

I tell them whatever it is, it must not be a pet, because there is a thing called killing with kindness, and to the pet it looks a lot like certain death in a bucket of water.

When I reach the top of the stairs, all the children squeal that I mustn't open the door because THE PET would be alarmed! I say it is me who is already alarmed, now show me the ruddy pet. Tiger points to an open window, where I peer out and see this.


I say that is most certainly not a pet. That is a pigeon.

Pigeons are different, I say sternly. Pigeons can never be pets. They can only be enemies who should be exterminated. Get the bucket of water.

I know the children look shocked, but so be it. A pigeon unloaded its liquid contents all over me in London in June 1982 outside Euston station. Until that moment I was wearing a stunning fitted summer dress and looked fantastic. I shall never forget the expression of horror on the face of the man standing next to me. That single moment created, for all eternity, a dark hole in my heart where pigeon compassion should be. Children, it may be sad to you, but I would happily dedicate my remaining days to executing all pigeons.

Of course the children begin to beg and plead and ask whether they can keep the revolting disgusting pigeon, the one who, if it comes one claw nearer me, I swear I will batter it to death with the bent squash racquet propped by the fridge.

No, I say. Absolutely not. To which Tiger assaults my loveless heart by bursting into tears all over my leg and saying that she has always wanted a pet and we can never have a pet and she is so desperate for a pet that she would even consider a DOG.

I look between the pigeon and Tiger and am just about to suggest they can have it as a pet for fifteen minutes and then I kill it, when Shark asks, why is it so tame and fat? And look, mama, it is ringed.

She is right. Then that confirms my suspicion. I say, calmly, the pigeon might be a homing pigeon! It is already someone's pet! It is loved already. It is merely pausing for a breather on the roof to take a break after a strenuous flap. Soon it must go home. It is now our duty to help the pigeon return to the owner who loves it.

Good, I think, this is excellent, because I can be righteous for my children and helpful and conciliatory and calm, get away with no pet and still hate the stinking pigeon, all at once.

Then Squirrel suggests we find out why we have a tame ringed homing pigeon hiding out on the corner of the roof, and here is the number she's read, so off we go to the Internet.

Oh dear.

We discover things. Like, given our location, yesterday's windy weather, and half a visible ring, this is probably not any old homing pigeon fondly cared for by an old man pottering about a shed who lost his wife but loves his pigeons.

No. This is a trained pigeon machine with serious money on its head. It is a pigeon destined to cross 550 miles with no rest, no water, no dinner. If it fails, it dies. If it succeeds, it dies. If it flaps home bringing pathetic excuses, it dies.There is no room for emotion in competitive pigeon racing.

No surprise it is hiding out on our roof. It is on the run, seeking asylum from fundamentalist pigeon racers.

Believe me, they are out there, in the Taiwanese Pigeon Racing World. I hardly dare direct you, sensitive reader, to the literature of the zealot, but if you browse Young Birds Race in Taiwan, you do not get porn. Well, unless you are unlucky enough to be turned on by explicit methods for breeding warrior pigeons to be the master pigeon race.

I look at that pigeon, hiding on a corner of the roof, knowing the future in all directions is certain death, and I say to my tender hearted daughters, more sensitive than me, Okay, you can feed it a bread pellet, then you must poke it with a stick to help it flap off and find a banana tree to nest in. But say farewell, because next it takes its chances, if not with me, then with the hungry kites.

2 comments:

Sugarplum Kawaii said...

Blummin' Pigeons. Mind you...have you heard that tune by John Shuttleworth...Pigeons In Flight? Please go listen...very funny.
I...along with a zelous neighbour drowned a humongous mutant Rat once. Ugh!

Retiredandcrazy said...

I loathe anything that flaps and moves in fast, unpredictable ways. Uggg!!