Having changed my office for the dining-room – where no one ever dines – and having moved the bird-feeder nearer the house, I see more of my little, feathered friends, who love me in the same way a beautiful, young woman loves a rich, old man.
I used to keep the feeder nearer the top of the garden, in the hundredth-of-an-acre wood, believing it safer from hawks, cats and other evils.
But the little fellas seem happy with the new arrangement and like to watch me while I work, particularly when I shake my fists at the computer or try to head-butt the machine into co-operating. It’s odd how birds that don’t come near the rest of the year start cosying up and making coos’ eyes when the cold starts to bite. It must be a bit like going to a food bank: they’re reluctant but haven’t got much choice.
I used to worry what the birds would do if I left but I think they’ll get by.
Recently, I popped across the road for a seasonal sherry with an old neighbour and found her lovely back garden was full of feasting birds. Little swine: I thought it was just me that they loved. But it means they’ll be all right if I fly the coop.
Interestingly, or indeed otherwise, I’m about to fly the coop for my regular holiday 10 minutes’ walk up the road at Swanky Towers.
Cedric and Millicent are once more sashaying abroad – a tiger-watching binge in India, would you believe? – and so it falls to me to feed and mollycoddle Jeeves and Bertie, the two moggies, who would mangle and eat my beloved wee birdies, given half the chance.
I am absolutely clear on this important question: the domestic cat is evil. You can tell by its face: wicked. And before you seek to excuse its atrocities by grunting the word “natural”, the clue to the unnatural nature of the situation lies in the word “domestic”.
Be that as it may, in an epic act of typically human treachery, I will be indulging the two domestic tigers, patting them on the heid frequently and talking goo-goo rubbish at them.
Bertie and I in particular are good pals – known him since he was a kitten – and he likes nothing better than to attack me violently when I’m trying to do my yoga exercises.
Jeeves tolerates me, like a refined butler with an oikish master indeed. Actually, he’s been unwell of late and it’ll be a crucial part of my duties to mop up his vomit now and again. I cannot think that this is what evolution intended for mankind.
Of course, being just 10 minutes doon the road, I’ll be able to nip back to the ghetto frequently enough to feed the birds. Protecting them from a neighbour’s cat has cost me a fortune in potions, fencing, lion dung (supposed to scare them off; doesn’t), minefields, watchtowers and a moat.
It’s a funny world that we live in and nowhere stranger than in our dealings with other creatures. Perhaps we’re all just playthings of a rogueish deity, who has just announced to his attendant angels: “Right, watch this: ah’m gonnae switch Rab’s computer off for a laugh.”