When I was in Paris, I had a soft spot for pigeons not least as we didn’t have an abundance of other birds around the place.

Now in Deepest Sussex, we do have lots of other birds and what is more, we have more than enough pigeons – many more than enough.

In Paris we had two who lived in the tree outside the kitchen window and we called them Fred and Marge.

When we got to Sussex, there were also two in the garden so, with a remarkable lack of inventiveness, we also called them Fred and Marge.

One was dispatched by a sparrow hawk – the same sparrow hawk who, living up to its name, ate a load of sparrows.

(It treats the sparrows living in the big back hedge as tapas and takes a little snack now and then.)

And the thing about sparrow hawks is that they clean their plate as it were, so when we found Fred or Marge, there was only a feather or two left.)

But now there are hundreds of bloody pigeons all over the place and they are a blundering nuisance.

They are dim, hefty, greedy and all over the shop.

One pair had the bright idea of building just by our bathroom window – right by it.

There is a climbing hydrangea and a Virginia Creeper there so plenty to rest on, and build around.

I don’t know if you have every seen a pigeon nest but it is not a thing of beauty.

Each pigeon of the pair would arrive with a twig in its mouth and say “ Mmm, ahh, mmm, oh go on then, let’s drop it here.”

Slowly an ungainly pile of twigs appeared.

And whilst you were having a shower, a beady and rather ugly eye would be watching you as it sat on the teetering pile of twigs.

Yes, yes we should have got rid of the nest quickly and discourage them but before we knew it, we were used to being watched cleaning our teeth and then there were two eggs.

Then there were two chicks (we called the squallies.)

I had imagined they would be bald and ugly but the pigeons (mother doing most of the caring, hey ho) were just smart enough to keep them hidden until they were presentably covered in down.

One day I noticed that there was only one squally and yes indeed, a body was found.

I am not sure whether it fell or was pushed and the other squally was surely not telling.

So, as I write, there is one squally, intermittently fed by the parent and now, as I dry off after a shower, it has got into the habit of stretching its wings ready for flight – and showing off to me.

In a few days it will be gone, and so will that nest. (There is only so much pigeon voyeurism a woman can take.)


More village stuff – but not too bucolic I hope

Recently we had the village harvest supper.

There is a sentence which would strike horror into the previous me.

I would worry (nay, fear) that what would come next was a bucolic lyric about charming village eccentrics and the heart-warming stories of a countryside thanking their god for a good harvest.

I will try, dear reader, to spare you the worst but feel free to go away and pour yourself something strong and read a Will Self novel.

Anyway, the harvest supper is linked (inexorably) to the church and is held in the village hall – well, I can hear you say, how interesting.

The village hall is in an area which has a lot of young families and working people – but no, the harvest supper is full of people even older than us, and a darn sight richer in most cases. I am pretty sure that few if any, of the immediate locals come.

There are a few young people there but they are dragged along by their parents and are more Bedales than local primary.

Still, and all, we have a good time.

Mostly because we have a great band – the village postman, his wife the postmistress, his sister, the Congregational pastor (or whatever they are called in the Congregational Church) and a bass player from the heady bohemian lights of Petersfield.

They are great, and the best beloved and I have a good dance.

Last year, feeling brave, we were the first up and left our friends behind at the table.

One of them was tapped on the shoulder by a village ‘elder’ who said sotto voce, “Just who are those people?”


Does anyone much get through life without a list?

I am pretty sure that there is a school of thought somewhere which says that if you don’t make lists in writing and instead work at remembering what to get when you are out, what you planned for supper and those basic domestic things you need to do this week, your brain gets a whole lot of exercise and you don’t get dementia.

But for me, without a list life would be like a poor Impressionist painting, not too bad from a distance but close up, those essential little blobs of paint would be missing.

In the old days when I had more than a housewife’s life, I would have rather interesting lists with a mix of stuff ranging from emailing a film director I wanted to come and speak at an event, to fixing up to go mushrooming in Nunhead cemetery.

Now it is all so much more boring – boring to me even, leave alone anyone else.

My skinny bliss has both a busier life and a good theory on lists.

She says, always start a list of things to do with something you have already done or can knock off very quickly. Then you can tick it off and feel good.

She also says this is the way to galvanise you into action to get the other, more intransigent things done.

Well maybe it works for her, but I end up with things being taken off one list and put onto another until I run out of notebook.

Sometime, I have left it so long and moved the task so often, I can’t remember what it was about. I found one the other day which said ‘note on bombing.’

Only as writing that have I remembered what it means.

I do quite like starting lists which don’t involve me in doing anything.

I am starting one at the moment which is a list of things that annoy me.

You, dear reader, can have a sneak preview of what in due course will become a very long list:

People not putting their supermarket trolleys back properly. It takes two seconds to push your trolley back into the line and save some poor being, out in the rain, from having to organize them all. And don’t get me going on people who just abandon them in the nearest parking space.

(As you can see, my reluctant housewife soul is coming to the fore here. )

Cushions on beds – what on earth are they for? They have to be taken off and slung on a chair somewhere. (Now, I have to admit, that behind me in our spare bedroom at two cushions on the bed but only because I made them and was rather pleased with myself at the time of their creation, and cannot bring myself to get rid of them – there is no practical or even aesthetic reason for them.)

Bombing ISIS or IS or ISL or whatever name they go by this week. Yes, I know they are a bunch of vicious, bullying bigots who have captured or been given a lot of weapons and are making life extremely miserable for a lot of people.

But they are not a traditional army, they don’t have HQs with a neon sign saying ‘Here, bomb this bit.’

They are scattered among a population in a vast area and the first British planes that went to bomb them couldn’t find them. We were told the pilots came back with a lot of ‘valuable intelligence’ but presumably that was intelligence of where ISIS weren’t.

Instead, let’s spend the equivalent money it costs us to bomb them on making life better for the Syrian refugees, the Sudanese, the Iraqis  – and get them to like us rather than being bombed by a drone ‘managed’ by a boy in Nevada.

Loading the dishwasher. Men just don’t seem to get the point, and it is a really, really simple point, that leaving your dirty dishes on the surface above the dishwasher is not a hint to the kitchen fairies but a annoyance to the person who needs that space to prepare supper. Enough said, after all no man likes a nagging wife.

The Scottish Vote

I am awfully glad that the Scottish are still with us – though I have to say, if I was any one of them, I would have been very tempted to vote yes in the referendum.

Well, my heart would have said yes even if my head was saying no.

One morning, half asleep with Radio 4 on (of course) my dearest thought he heard that the last minute blast by political leaders to persuade the Scots to vote no included giving them expensive cars.

(Extensive powers was what was actually on offer.)

If I were Scottish I think I might well have opted for a nice new car rather than staying with us and the delights of UKIP.

If you haven’t voted in more than one Tory for eons and have a system which does not charge students, and has free prescriptions, what would make you believe David Cameron was really interested in you – he just didn’t want to have to break it to Brenda that he had lost her the union.

It didn’t take a degree in political science to know that the vote was going to be close and Gordon Brown ( ike a bear in a Scottish cave) had been growling about it for months.

But at least the vote means that us English will not be ruled entirely by ( the walking, talking bad caricature) Jacob Rees Mogg and the like.

So, thank you Scotland and I will be up in Edinburgh shortly and will smile at every person I meet in the hope that they don’t think we are all right-wing idiots.