Marriage can be a funny thing. Sunday mornings should be sacred, only not necessarily in a religious way. This Sunday just gone (which is when I started this) I was woken early because ‘the wife’ was off to see her mother. I have to go with her once in a while, an experience which frequently tests the boundaries of my patience. Even on a good day my attitude would struggle to achieve an ‘underwhelmed’ level. Fortunately I was off the hook, and so lay in bed with Miss Hairy Mary Miyagi and plotted a day of world class non-achievement. Then ‘the wife’ called, barely 10 minutes later. She had seen a bird. Like I said – marriage can be a funny thing.
It appears that not long after setting off she had negotiated a small, grassed roundabout upon which she spotted what was almost certainly a large bird of prey. She emphasised the size, just to get my full attention. Maybe it was an eagle, she pondered. I should have asked if it looked like Don Henley but it was still too early for that kind of insensitive quippery. Did it look ok, I probably asked. She said it might have been injured but she wasn’t sure. You see she hadn’t actually stopped to check and instead was now bombing round the M25. And immediately I realised where this was going.
Now please don’t misunderstand me – while I’m no budding amateur ornithologist I certainly have no reason to wish harm to any flying creature. Except wasps, because they’re bastards. Furthermore, I am often suitably impressed with the larger variety of birds out there – the Falcon of Peregrine, the Condor of Andy, the Owl of Barn(ey), Judy Finnigan. You could also include the humble kite, the motionless heron and even the slightly chunkier members of the rook family. So news that one might be hurt on a nearby roundabout was certainly not welcome.
However, one must draw a line somewhere. I was tucked up safely in bed on a cold, windy Sunday morning with a scornful cat curled up on my feet. Was I going to single-handedly rescue this bird? Was I arse. But I could tell from the tone of concern (for the bird, not me) in my sweet, cherished life partner’s voice that I wasn’t getting off that easily. I tried to persuade her that it was very likely other people had already spotted the be-feathered behemoth and had alerted the appropriate authorities, but eventually we established that this should also be my job. I was quite unhappy with the way my morning was going; especially as I hadn’t even left my bed yet.
But, being lovely on some level, I agreed I would ‘look into it’ and half-heartedly poked around at animal rescue places online but most were still closed so I dropped back to sleep. After all, the possibilities were rather restricted – 1. the bird was injured and someone would rescue it, 2. the bird had fallen into the road and was squished into a feathery soup or 3. the bird was fine and did what fine birds do and had just flown off (nature note – option 3 is not available to flightless birds, though in fairness the chances of an ostrich or a dodo exploring the immediate environs of Junction 22 of the M25 are somewhat remote). Then when I woke up a bit later I started to go through the conversation in my head:
“Yes, hello, hi there, I’m just phoning because my wife said she thought she saw a large bird of prey on a roundabout and it may have been injured. No, she didn’t stop to confirm any of that information. No, this was about 90 minutes ago. No, I haven’t been down to look for myself. Yes, this does sound like a prank call. Yes, I understand you have better things to do. Yes, I feel like a tit; blue, great or other. Yes, I’m happy to go and fuck myself, thank you. Cheerio.”
And so, unable to justify such embarrassment, I reached a compromise. I got up, got dressed, got in the car and then drove round all the roundabouts nearby and, shock/horror, not a single large, distressed or otherwise, bird of prey was to be seen. There wasn’t even the tell-tale evidence of a cluster of bloodied remains clogging up a gutter or a single, mournful feather, drifting to the pulse of ongoing traffic. Whatever ‘the wife’ had seen had gone and I went home with a clear conscience. If a lorry driver finds a flattened Harrier Hawk on their front driver side wheel then that’s their problem, not mine.
So, that was the most exciting thing that happened to me this Sunday. On reflection I suppose it was a shame it wasn’t Don Henley; I’ve always had a soft spot for The Eagles.
G B Hewitt. 28.01.2019