A nice bit of symbolism here for you. Have a great weekend.
I recently read about a 72-year-old man who goes by the pretentious moniker of ‘Roadkill Connoisseur’.
He used to be a taxidermist, and would bring home roadside pickings to skin and stuff. Then he decided that instead of throwing the bodies away it would be frugal to start eating them. His palate has taken in all types of creatures such as badgers, polecats (their meat has a vile smell) and swans (tastes like mud). His freezer is crammed full with the whole gamut of British fauna.
In this day and age of recycling and trying to combat our wasteful habits there is a certain common sense to what he does. He does not like waste, and calls himself a freegan-he doesn’t pay for his meals. His vegetarian wife eats her meals upstairs to avoid a row. That is the secret to a successful marriage. Relate take note.
Now I am sure you may be thinking he is just a harmless eccentric, and that his story is slightly amusing in a detached way. But then he goes on to say that his favourite food is labrador.
Now that puts a different complexion on things doesn’t it? I know some of you discerning people who follow City Jackdaw have these lovely, cuddly dogs as family pets. All of a sudden, your cornflake laden spoon has frozen on its way to your mouth. Mid-dunked digestives have crumbled into your cups of tea.
I was uncertain as whether to tell you that he says Bouncer tastes a little like lamb. But in for a penny in for a pound.
The thing is, he isn’t actually killing these animals. He isn’t even harming them. But could you do the same? If you was hungry? And you wanted to do your bit to save the planet?
Waste not want not.
Walking the East Lancs road must be like a finger buffet to our dear old connoisseur.
Which brings me to something else.
I also read the story of a man who lost a finger and part of his hand due to a motorcycle accident. He had always, even before banging his head, had a curiosity about cannibalism. But of course other people’s meat is off-limits (damn the law). His culinary opportunity arose when surgeons informed him that they would have to amputate his finger. Yes, you’ve guessed correctly. He took the severed appendage home and boiled it (the best way not to damage the bones) without adding anything to the broth that may disguise its true flavour.
Once consumed, he lovingly placed the bones in a box as a souvenir. His act has been greeted with disgust, but also, notably, with the approval of a vegan. Animals unsportingly do not give their consent to be eaten, whereas this guy gave consent to himself to eat himself. Partly.
What is wrong with these people? Is it me?
There is no way I am telling my wife that this guy ate a part of his own body because he was curious and it was no longer of any other use to him. Not when she is clipping her toenails. My stomach just wouldn’t take it.
Enjoy your lunch.
It is that time of the year again when an attempt to vegetate in front of the television set may result in us being compelled to actually open the blinds and peer outside, maybe get out in the garden or, if we are truly touched by the adventurous spirit, get our boots on and seek out the more scenic parts of our country.
To get involved with the outside world.
Yes, Springwatch is back on. This programme, and its sister programme Autumnwatch, is partly responsible for a public increase of interest in our indigenous wildlife. We have also recently had a shorter-run Winterwatch, with a promised Summerwatch too this year. So that covers just about everything then.
We are nine episodes in, with live cameras and twenty four hour web cams set up in a variety of locations around the British Isles to document many different species of our wildlife, showing how they have faired through the winter months and the struggle they face to breed and survive among a changing world and predation.
We have been treated to, among many others, ospreys and otters, finches and foxes, warblers and weasels, dippers and dolphins, buzzards and bees. We have marvelled at feats of endurance and display, persistence and guile.
And among all this impressive footage, who do you reckon have been the villains of the piece?
That’s right, the jackdaws.
There is a bird box set up in a barn, and two jackdaws have nested there, raising two chicks. The parents are doing a masterful job of mucking in and spreading the load. No single parent or free loader in this set-up.
The problem is when the two parents are off foraging for food. In their absence, two other adult jackdaws have been entering the nest box and going about the process of systematically attacking the defenceless chicks. Time after time, day after day, they have come in and merciless pecked at the two cawing chicks, as they huddle together in the corner trying to find some kind of protection. It only ceases when one or both parents return to eject the invaders from the box. The problem is that they need to go and find food for the young ones, and as soon as they do the deadly duo come back in and the whole sickening spectacle begins again.
Over and over.
Viewers throughout the country have been horrified, dropping their digestives into their cups of tea as they reach for their phones to tweet their disgust
The theory given is that these two intruders are lower down the..ahem..pecking order in the jackdaw hierarchy, and want the nest box for themselves to breed in. They have even been bringing in nesting material of their own. Talk about cheek.
The one thing going for the chicks is their size. They are close to fledgling. If they had been younger it would all have been over with by now. And they are beginning to fight back themselves. Like bullied kids the world over, they have their tipping point.
I know that wild life is just that-wild life. Red in tooth and claw. I mean we have recently seen a young meadow pipit taken by a grass snake as the rest scatter from the nest in a desperate attempt at survival. But at least that was quick. The young jackdaws are being subjected to constant, prolonged attacks.
Having a front row seat to witness this violent drama has caused me to feel a little uncomfortable about the title of my blog. Do I really want it associated with such, well, animalistic thuggery?
And what would I change it to? What if I kept it along the wildlife line, but chose something nice, inoffensive, cute even?
What about a rabbit? Everybody loves rabbits. Rabbits are lovable. Cute? Check. Fluffy? Check. Not psychotic? Check.
Right then, I will have a blog name incorporating the word rabbit and something else, something that would not cause me to waiver after watching a single episode of Springwatch or Watership Down.
But before I could make that connection, a memory came to me. My Dad, saying very casually to my Mum:
“Rabbits sometimes mate with rats in the wild.”
I can’t for the life of me remember the context of that conversation, and I am convinced he was pulling her leg. But my Mum never ate rabbit again.
Now I have another vision. The horrific sight of those attacks on the poor, defenceless chicks has now been replaced by another, unwholesome image.
Rabbits mating with rats.
That’s it. I’m sticking with jackdaws.