My neighbours think we’re most peculiar. It’s not that we’re odd, just that they think we are — due to bad timing and a series of incidents that are too complicated to explain (so we don’t bother). Heaven knows what theories they must imagine up to rationalise our behaviour.
Here’s a typical example.
One day, a few years ago, I was watching a Wimbledon match on my kitchen telly. I was annoyed to be so frequently distracted by a noisy bird outside in the rear courtyard of our apartment block of tenement flats.
I suddenly realised that there was a small bird in a tree getting bullied by a gang of aggressive biker-style magpies. I could hardly believe the behaviour, and called on my wife.
My daughter and wife were so upset about the little bird, and of the horrible behaviour of the magpie gang, that they called the RSPCB.
After a surreal conversation, it was decided that my wife and daughter would save the poor wee bird. The Bird Expert had suggested a plastic laundry basket would be a good way to get the bird caught and safe.
A laundry basket was sourced, and a cunning plan devised. My daughter hunted out some play walkie-talkies, the batteries still had charge, and the channels were set. I was kitted out with binoculars and posted to the window to guide their movements from above as they sneaked up on the scene.
Off they skulked, in soft-soled shoes, and dark clothes, with the other walkie-talkie and the plastic basket. They snuck down and out the back door and waved up at my window.
I whispered into the walkie-talkie for them to take it easy and slow, and to work round to the left. The birds were oblivious.
They bent double, and sneaked as directed, pausing behind some foliage to consider the next move when a neighbour suddenly (and loudly) appeared on the scene, carrying a refuse bag to the communal bin store.
She was quite startled to see my wife and daughter crouching with a walkie-talkie and a large plastic laundry basket.
She left her bin and returned to the building without saying a word, glancing and frowning up at the window as my binoculars glinted off the setting sun, but the game was up; the birds had taken fright and vanished. The two ninja bird hunters signed off and returned sheepishly to base.
I was beside myself with laughter.
No wonder the neighbours think we’re odd.