GARDEN V ISITORS
A guinea fowl glid on to the garage roof. It brought a series of visits full circle. I was about to leave the house where I had lived for seventeen years with two husbands [not at the same time], two children and a series of callers from the Animal Kingdom ...
Soon after I moved in, I opened the back door to discover an enormous gobbling bird. Inhospitably, I closed the door on it and ran to telephone the local police station. Early though it was, they were not cross - just amused.
"Can you advise me what to do?" I asked. "I have to get myself and my baby boy across the patio and into the car - and there's a turkey sitting on the door step."
"Hit it on the head and we'll be round for dinner," was the first suggestion.
I protested on the grounds of Cruelty and Cowardice.
When they had stopped laughing long enough to ask more policeman-like questions and thus discovered my address, they were able to surmise that the usurper probably came from the small-holding down the lane. They gave me the telephone number. Eventually the proprietor arrived and chased back the escapee. After such close contact and subsequent betrayal I could not face the traditional Christmas dinner that year.
Some years later I spent Christmas in Paris where they start their serious seasonal eating at midnight on Christmas Eve after [or in some cases, instead of] going to Mass. They begin with oysters which I declined on the grounds that I am virile enough already. Then came escargots which I also refused on the grounds that they look revolting. I did taste the sauce which is divine. Then, instead of dinde, Jeanne served pintades - a whole one each. My husband waited till I had finished mine before telling me it was a dear little guinea fowl.
But this bird on the garage was no sixteen-year old ghost seeking retribution. My young daughter volunteered to go out into the village and make enquiries. In five minutes she was back with the name of the owner, who had been searching the prodigal bird for two days. Nadyne demanded bread to entice GF until owner arrived. It was better to watch than the Keystone Cops, the comical creature stalking up to Nadyne's outstretched glove, baited with our last granary roll, then taking fright and racing past her into the copse. On the other side of the copse are the sheep, including a ram on which our regular visitor Cat was wont to sleep. The moment Owner Janet appeared with corn, supposedly irresistible to pintades of all nationalities, this one leaped over amongst the hostile woolly flock. Janet and Nadyne followed, scrambling through bushes, while I dashed upstairs where my son, the baby of paragraph two, was enjoying a panoramic view of the whole thing instead of swotting up "A" level Botany. For the next half hour we caught tantalising glimpses of the chase until our respective consciences recalled us to the Common Speedwell and the Greater Spotted Hoover. Janet eventually appeared at the kitchen door, clutching GF under her arm - reminiscent of Alice and the flamingo.
Between these two escapades we enjoyed the saga of the squirrel, the invasion of the marauding mice, the attack of the bats in the bedroom, the fledgling sparrow we brought to adulthood in a basket in the kitchen [when he wasn't snoring on my shoulder], the hedge-trampling horse, and Cat who, like the Greeks, came bearing gifts - his speciality being freshly slaughtered halves of baby rabbits [my share of his kill]. I wondered whether we would be entertaining any wildlife in our new garden in France. I'd been told the French catch and eat anything that moves. I vowed to at least refuse turkey and guinea fowl.
... END ...