Friday, 30 October 2009

Sense of Humour

My sister Oli called from Australia in the early hours – by accident, but it woke us from weird dreams – mine about piling shoes into a bath with spider-snails attacking my feet and Jam's about snakes turning inside out, shedding their skins and he was loving it. After that we couldn't really get back to sleep, for some reason the bed seemed to small.

So I slid out and down to the other end of the boat and got forty winks of peace there, woken by my lover making the fire, he tried to romantically carry me back to the sleeping quarters but we got squashed in the galley. I ended up in a pile of blanket and giggles on the floor.

Eventually making it to bed, Jam said he was going to make some waffles and would I like some tea? 'Yes', I said 'and I'd love my notebook and a pen please'.
'I'd love a sense of humour and a large bank account' said Jam and at that point one of the mallards gave it's deadpan laughing call. What synchronicity these birds have in our lives – surely they were listening in?

Birdsong is such a wonderful sound. Lying here guessing the different birds – mallards, coots, a seagull! And the electronic hoot of Ma'am. Clockwork as ever she's here now for her breakfast. Wouldn't it be lovely if she could sit down in the Whispering Garden with us and have a proper breakfast. Sporting a little red neckerchief, polite conversation – ooh did you see Tarporley last night, giving spooky Halloween tours through the tunnel, those kids couldn't get enough of it could they, howling and hooting, echoes through to the Angel.

- Yes and we pretended to be ghostly witchy figures on the mooring, demanding little children for our supper. What fun!

- Delicious eggs Benedict Flora, enthuses Ma'am, could you pass the salt please? So peaceful up here in the Whispering Garden, none of the riff-raff down there can see you, it feels positively sacred here, especially on this church pew, juxtaposed with the bar table and Jam's home-made Kissing Chair, anything could happen.

- Yes it is wonderful just being one step outside into nature, in the middle of London. We're enjoying making our part of the world special.

- And that it is my dear, well I'd best get back to the waterways, thank you so much for your delightful company and a delicious breakfast, you certainly know how to treat a bird well!

Friday, 9 October 2009

Morning Ma'am!

My darling husband leaves at the crack of dawn for work these days, so I tend to wake as well – hard not to on a narrow boat! This morning I was particularly exhausted having been to an immense Clothes Swapping Party we've been partaking in amongst friends for some years now, so I hit the snooze button hoping to re-enter fantasy world but was rudely interrupted by knocking on the side of the boat from our most elegant bird in residence, the swan 'Ma'am'.

She feeds from our hand and comes by every day without fail to have a chat and a nibble, usually in the morning on her start of the bread crawl along our patch of the canal up towards Camden. There's often a gaggle of geese in tow a few minutes behind but quite frankly they're not as polite and so don't get as much attention from me.

Ma'am just seems to know how to behave around humans. She gracefully sits and listens to your woes and patiently waits for the bread to be offered up. She's so gentle you want to stroke her and wash off the muddy brown stains around her neck – funnily enough I haven't tried that yet! When she ruffles up her wings and feathers it's always such a magnificent breath-taking sight.

It's so sad that she's alone. She started visiting us about two years ago and last year had a partner with her. I believe they made a nest further down the canal and laid some eggs, one of the eccentric locals who pushes her trolley along feeding the pigeons out of her numerous bags of bread crumbs told me some kids had been throwing stones and rubbish at them whilst they were nesting and a blue plastic bag had got stuck around one of the swans neck. I wasn't able to find said swan, or the nest, when I went for a walk to investigate but not long after when the swans came to visit, one of them looked like their neck was considerably more oily and dirty than usual and he couldn't lift his head to take the bread properly, we reported to the wildlife helpline, but the next time they visited it was just Ma'am on her own again, looking very sad – if a swan can look sad or maybe I just felt her vibe.

Poor Ma'am. All alone again, just the geese, coots and pigeons to play with and only me to chat to in the mornings...