What a strange time to be alive. Toxic politics fuelled by a toxic media fuelled by toxic hordes on the toxic web. Just whatever you do, don’t voice an opinion. On anything. Ever. Shush. Don’t do it, because whatever you say will be wrong. No matter what your intentions, but this is the new new. The new normal. Social distancing. Get fined if you go for a drive. Don’t get fined if you’re connected. Pandemics. Climate change. Forest fires. Worldwide protests. A surge in anti-racism. A surge in racism. A surge in anti-authoritarianism. Another step in democratic governments abusing their power. A surge in right wing, left wing, alt-right, alt-left. A surge in the funnelling of profits that strengthens the strongest and weakens the weakest because you can’t buy clothes from a clothes shop. You can’t buy books from a bookshop, but you can buy those things from a supermarket.
Blimey. It’s all a bit much, isn’t it. And there’s no end in sight. Best have a brew then. What do you reckon? Let’s have a cuppa and a biscuit. Digestives? Custard Creams? What’s your tickle?
Or, how about some flapjack? I made some. Do you want one?
They’re just oats, sugar, golden syrup and butter. Very sweet, but moorish too. Help yourself. Ooh, or, do you know what we could have instead? We could have a rock cake. These didn’t turn out perfect, but they’re not too bad.
Tell you what. We’ll pop them on the table in the garden then you can choose what you want. We can sit and watch the birds. I get a lot in my garden. But then I put a lot of food out for them. I get up early, you see. Normally about 4:30 this time of year. It’s nice. I walk my dogs on the beach and watch the sunrise. Then I head home, feed the poochies, make a coffee and put some food out for the birds. The pigeons and doves love the peanuts. The tits, finches, robins and smaller birds really go for the sunflower hearts, and the starlings chomp all the mealworm up.
It’s cool watching the way they interact with each other. It’s interesting. The pigeons are big and a bit clumsy, and a bit thick if I’m being honest. The doves are very graceful. The way they move and fly is a pleasure to watch. The smaller birds are just fast. Flitting here and there. The blackbirds work hard too. Especially around this time of year when they’re all raising young. The starlings are cool. They come in mobs. Sometimes just a dozen. Sometimes fifty or sixty. I love watching them. They move with incredible synchronicity.
The older starlings are darker with spots and stripes markings. The younger ones are normally brown. They follow the older ones and slowly learn how to fly and land, how to peck and forage. The elders feed them for a bit, then back away and make the younger ones do it for themselves. Starlings have big feet too, so it’s quite funny watching them walk when they’re young. Like they have big oversized clown feet and haven’t quite got used to their own bodies yet.
Then there’s the magpies. They mate for life and they’re generally always within calling distance to each other. That’s why it’s considered unlucky to see one on its own. I’ve got a family that frequent my garden. They actually think the garden is theirs, and they’re super smart too. They love eating the scraps left in the dog food bowls. They’ll land on the fence and shed when the dogs are eating and clack about. They’re pushy birds, and if they don’t get fed quickly they get noisier. I normally put the finished bowls on top of the shed for them.
The magpies tend to dominate the other bird species. They’re very territorial, and they can be highly aggressive. I was writing the other day. Just last week actually. My desk is next to a window that overlooks the garden. It was all very peaceful then suddenly I heard this terrible noise go up. It was the starlings all screaming out in panic and creating a right hullabaloo. I thought maybe a cat had snagged one.
I ran out to see Maggie (the lady Magpie) attacking a baby starling. She was all puffed up, but she backed away and hopped around me while the other starlings screamed out. The baby wasn’t quite dead. Maggie had ripped a whole in its neck. I picked it up and tried to stop the bleeding, but the shock and the injury were too much and it died in my hands.
I was cross with Maggie after that. At dinner time she jumped on the fence and starting shouting for the dogs to hurry up so she could eat. I went out and told her no.
“Feed me!” she said. “I need food.”
“No! You killed that bird. I’m not feeding you.”
“Feed me! Put the bowls on the shed and go away.”
“Don’t shout at me, Maggie. You killed a baby bird.”
“It wasn’t me.”
“I saw you! I was there. You pecked its neck and the poor thing died in my hands.”
“Whatever. Put the bowls on the shed. I need to eat.”
“No! I won’t feed you. Not after that. Find another garden. Stop cawing at me. You killed a baby bird! Why do that? It was no threat to you. You chase all the other birds away. This isn’t just your garden, Maggie. That food isn’t just yours.”
“Put the bowls on the shed!”
“I will give you nothing. You killed a baby. It was defenceless against you. You’re like five times it’s size. Why did you do it?”
“I owe you no explanation, Human. I’ll tell you none either. Give me the food.”
“No! You’re not even grateful for what I do give you.”
“Gratitude? I have no gratitude. If you die now I will peck our your eyes and dance on your corpse. Put the bowls on the shed and go inside your house. I’ll give you no explanation. You see us and you think we’re cute. You think we live in harmony and all the birds co-exist in peace. We don’t. Foolish man. Die right now. I’ll eat your flesh. I care nothing for you. The starlings come fifty or sixty in number, and they eat everything. I chase them away because I have young, and my young need to eat too. The starlings will take everything. Do you think I want to kill them? There is no desire. Just life and death. It was young and slow. I killed it. The others saw and they will learn to move faster, and they will learn to go away when I chase them so that my young can eat. You see life only through your lens. The pigeons peck each other to get the best food. The doves do it. The blackbirds fight and squabble all day. This is an eternal war for us. And if I don’t move fast enough the crows will hurt me, the cats will kill me, the foxes will eat me. Put the bowls on the shed and die. I care nothing for you. We are not friends and I give you no gratitude.”
I put the bowls on the shed.
Maggie was right too. The other birds do peck the hell out of each other, and the family of crows that come now and then do make everything else go away.
Birds exist around us only because we are here. If we were not here, they would exist without us. As would everything else. Some species would die. Others would live. It’s life. It’s what life is. It’s never still or static. Nothing in the universe is ever still. The planet is spinning at 1000 miles an hour travelling 940 million km a year in orbit of a burning sun that takes up 99% of our solar system. A solar system that contains 8 planets, more than 200 moons and over 750,000 minor planets and over 4000 comets. And that’s just our solar system, which is one of billions of systems within the Milky Way Galaxy. A galaxy that contains hundreds of billions of planets and trillions of moons, all of which are orbiting a super massive black hole. The universe could have trillions of galaxies, with each one trapped within the gravitational pulls of other black holes. That means that everything within the universe is in motion all of the time. Nothing is ever still.
Do you want another brew? I’ll make one. Have another rock cake, or some flapjack. It’s peaceful here, and at least we can’t hear all the angry TV and internet people all shouting at each other.
But then we’re all so different, aren’t we. We’re all so diverse with differing needs and expectations. It’s not like we’re each 37 trillion cells inside a body held together by 22 square feet of skin. A body that contains over 200 bones and 650 muscles with one heart pumping 5 litres of blood through 100,000 km of veins. I mean, it’s not like we each breathe 30,000 times in one day. Or in that same day 360,000 new ones of us are born while around 150,000 die. Don’t think about it. Because you’ll also think 50,000 other thoughts today, 80% of which will be negative, and 98% of which will be the same as yesterday.
That’s in between blinking 9 million times a year, or shedding 3 kilos of skin while taking 2500 wees and producing 145 kilos of poo. That’s a lot for one year. But in your life you could read over 4500 books, speak 860 million words and have sex 5000 times. A life during which a woman may have 350 menstrual periods while a guy produces over 500 billion sperm cells.
Aye. We’re all so different. Each one of the 7 billion alive right now, and each of the 107 billion that have ever lived.
All of whom had a life. A life in which the average person might see over 40 million faces and touch the lives of 80,000 other people. All of whom were born to hear, see, fart, think, blink, shed, wee, poo, copulate, menstruate and make sperm to evolve our species before also dying, because it is not only the duty of every living thing to seek life, but also to die and give space to those that follow.
Crikey. But governments eh? How bad are they? Best have that brew then because the planet will spin on and the birds and bees and men and women will all fuck and kill each other the same as they have always done, and the same as they always will. These rock cakes aren’t that bad actually. I like the flapjacks though. Let’s watch the birds. It’s peaceful.
Aaaaand, if you read through all of that to win an Undead mug then you are a superstar awesome human being! They’re nice mugs. All pink and cool. Just leave a comment saying hi and I’ll draw a couple of winners.
Much love x
*The WSH book 2 is done and with Audible. We’re waiting for the lockdown to ease so it can be produced.
*There will be an Undead 25 just as soon as I can do it.
*The Undead audio and written books are all caught up to each other.
*I really hope you liked A Town Called Discovery. Leave a review if you did!
*A Town Called Discovery has been commissioned by Audible. But again, we’re waiting for production to start.
*Those flapjacks really were very nice.