Nobody tells you that having a child at home brings in a lot of useless crap. People tell you about the hard work, sleepless nights and tiredness. But nobody tells you that having a child means the amount of useless crap in your house will just get bigger, from day to day and year to year.
The older is the child, the more crap you will accumulate. Since the beginning of the nursery at school, our house started filling up with not only the usual bits of Polly Pocket, branches of old trees, stones and sea shells; there is also stuff from school. Look- mummy-what-we-made-today kind of stuff. The stuff that you feel obliged and expected to keep, for years to come. And I do try to be a good mother. I keep cardboard tubes with plastic wheels, and painted conkers. I keep bits of aluminium foil mixed with cotton wool stuck on large pieces of paper. The other day though, my daughter came out of the school with something utterly disgusting in her hand.
“Look mummy, she said. Look at this!”
I am looking! – I said- What is this? And why are you holding this in your hand?
"It is for the birdies!", she cried, shoving the thing in my hand. Surely, I thought, looking at the big greasy ball of lard-this is not for me, not to be brought home in my (recently hand-washed by a bunch of Croatian boys) car. But it was. You see, lard is commonly used in the UK to make bird-feeders. Don’t ask. I have no idea why. You can buy perfectly suitable bird feeders in shops.
I love animals a lot. And I love the fact that people in the UK, in their majority, love animals, too. However, the fascination that Brits seem to have with birds is simply beyond me.
I noticed a while ago that my in laws, who live in the middle of a beautiful countryside, can sit with a cup of tea, stare out of the window, and discuss whether they saw a Blue Tit or a Greenfinch on that bush. “Have you seen that tit?” -My in laws would exclaim excitedly. And the scariest thing is that my husband, who is not quite 70 yet, gets excited, too. "Wow, he would say- I have not seen a buzzard ‘round here for ages!" Who cares? It is a bird.
And now my child is getting into that, too. Not only she decorates the house with bits of static wild life, including conkers, stones and sea shell and gets encouraged by Husband to experiment with worms in the garden; she now feeds the flying wild life with greasy balls of lard with seeds.
Sitting with Druggie outside some years ago, enjoying a rare sunshine and a cup of coffee, trying to learn a little more about local birds, I asked her, pointing out to a black bird on the lawn:
-And what is that black bird called?
Druggie started laughing.
-Black bird?- she said, and I thought she did not get it.
-Yes the black bird, that one over there!- I pointed, and she just kept giggling.
(It is the drugs, you know. She giggles at almost everything I say)- Yes, Blackbird, she said. That’s what it is called.
Oh, I thought. That bird watching business is actually going to be easy. Years on, Blackbird is still the only type I can recognize.