October 11, 2004

There was a pigeon in our garden on Friday

There was a pigeon in our garden on Friday when I went to get my bike. A fat, grey pigeon lying on the ground, with its neck bent in a funny 'S' shape and its eyes closed. It was undoubtably dead – I didn't check its pulse or anything but it had a certain sereneness that I guess even pigeons only obtain once they have passed on. They clearly have their problems too.

Anyway, there it sat, on the gravel. In the way. The immediate question sprang to mind – what do I do about it? Is this the sort of thing one rings the landlady for? Was I expected, as the discoverer, to move it myself? I'm not a particularly squeamish person but I have to admit that I had no desire to dispose of a dead bird. Certainly not at that time in the morning. And, where the hell was I supposed to put it anyway? It seemed a bit weird to just put it in the bin but I think giving anything larger than a house spider a proper burial borders on lunacy. There aren't enough guidelines on this sort of thing if you ask me.

So, after a good few minutes of simply staring at it in cretinous silence, I did the only obvious thing. I left. I wheeled my bike very carefully around it and shut the gate behind me, feigning ignorance. It was still there when I got back of course but by then it was an existing feature of the garden – old news, if you will, and, therefore, not worthy of my attention. And, more to the point, no longer my responsibility.

It stayed there all weekend, happily decomposing underneath our kitchen window. It was very quiet about it and I doubt I would have given it much thought until this morning if I hadn't happened look out of the window early on Saturday morning. The sun was still quite low in the sky and it was shining in through the window. They're not overly clean, our windows, it has to be said, but in amongst all the other crap clearly highlighted by the light behind it was the ghostly imprint of the front of a pigeon on the glass. It's like a cross between a bad x-ray and that rabbit on the front of Donnie Darko. You can make out chest feathers and the wings (pointing downwards in mid flight, presumably, just before it smacked into a solid vertical surface) and if you look really carefully you can see the eyes and beak. And this is it's most truly disturbing quality. It kind of watches you as you're eating, like one of those paintings in the museum that follows you wherever you go. It would be funny if it wasn't quite so sinister.

I guess it answers the question of how a dead bird came to be lying on the floor. I didn't think it was possible 'cos our kitchen is an extension and the upstairs window is set way back but it's obviously the only explaination – the idiot thing flew, unaided, to its own death. Why, you've got to wonder, was it flying so low? I mean, was it looking for something, like old women scour the pavement for their purses? It had to have been going at a fair crack too, seeing as it was lying a good metre and a half away from the house and there's no smearing of the imprint. It's not like it accidentally bumped into the window on it's way down to land. No, this thing was going like a bullet from a gun on what was clearly a kamikaze outing. I'm no physicist (thank the Good Lord) but I'm surprised it didn't crash through the glass and land, spreadeagled, on the table.

It was gone this morning. I have no idea where it went or who took it – someone with a stronger stomach than me, no doubt as the decay must have well and truly set in by then. Maybe one of my housemates came upon it and thought they were the first ones to find it. They have always been more practical about these things than me. Or, maybe my landlady was making one of her very frequent, very nosy visits and decided it was her job to dispose of it after all. Maybe, I was wrong all along and it wasn't dead after all, it was just having a rest before picking itself up and flying off – possibly to have another attempt at a less reinforced window. Who knows? But, for a while at least – until the next heavy rainfall – we shall have the imprint of a pigeon on our window, greeting us every morning from beyond the grave.

At least I don't have to wheel my bike around it anymore.


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  1. Awwwww :(
    Poor pigeon. I'm not a great fan of the things, but you've got to feel sorry for anything that dies in such an idiotic way :(

    11 Oct 2004, 17:47

  2. Nick Hull

    Rach – thats really sad, yet a very funny read ;-)

    Did anyone own up to burying/throwing it away?

    You should consider a career as a story teller!

    17 Oct 2004, 21:52

  3. No one seems to know anything about it. Or at least they claim not to. I have my suspicions though

    18 Oct 2004, 16:45

  4. Nick Hull

    How about you add a picture of the window with the pigeon ghost…

    18 Oct 2004, 20:06

  5. Roger Allinson-French

    Rach,

    I never knew you were such a literary star!

    I have to admit I know next to nothing about pidgeons, however I do know, and how about this for a tenuous link, that one of the Hollywood pioneers was a man named Walter Pidgeon, who among others starred in his first film in 1926 called Mannequin a fairly standard murder story set in Manhatten. Perhaps the link is not so tenuous as I first thought and there's a secret pidgeon murderer out there …

    Anyway, and in no way intended to worry you bearing in mind your travel plans, you might (or more probably not) be interested to know that Pidgeon went on to become a huge star in films such as 'Girl Overboard' and 'Manproof' in the 30's, , Sky-Murder in the 40's, The 50's were fairly tame but got a role in 'How I spent my Summer' in 60s (later renamed 'deadly roulette') oh and 'Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea'.
    In the 70's he had roles in 'The Screaming Woman' and 'Skyjacked' not to mention 'Murder on Flight 502'

    I think perhaps if you just try and forget about all that and just remember that he was also in 'Funny Girl' 'The Happiest Millionaire' and his last film 'Sextette' and hope that these are better omens …

    05 Nov 2004, 14:11

  6. Roger Allinson-French

    Stuffed Pigeon
    by
    Damion Michael Higbie

    He's doing it again, pressing his glass eye
    to the window, as if the pupil might recall
    the shape of a branch, trigger enough heat to melt
    a hole in the morning layers of frost.
    Somewhere along the way, he's lost
    a wing. I want to say, Georgia:
    that cross-town move to the east side
    of Macon for a girl with a gypsy mouth,
    the one I imagine in that old place
    on Orchid Street, dancing,
    shirtless, to a tambourine. And soon enough
    it all closes in—a canopy of oak
    and Spanish moss, the missing wing
    fashioned with hair
    around her neck. Baby, she hisses,
    letting her tongue find that space
    between her teeth. Baby. . .until the pigeon leans
    another inch toward the glass.

    05 Nov 2004, 14:13


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