Of all my irrational fears, the fear of dead birds comes pretty close to being the worst. I have a cat, and I’m completely sanguine about chasing her out of the room so I can shoo a live bird out from under the sofa and reintroduce it to the Great Outdoors. More grown-up friends tell me that the worst situation is finding an injured bird that’s not quite dead, but [VIGOROUSLY KNOCKS ON WOOD] that hasn’t happened in the Čičić-Brazil household yet. Yet.
Dead birds, though. My god.
I do an impression of one when I’m trying to explain The Horror to people: it involves pressing my straight arms to my sides, screwing my eyes shut and my fave into a dead/pained expression, and leaning forward to suggest that ghastly prone position I always find them in, reduced to tiny brown bundles on the floor, mysteriously intact, neat little specimens of recent avian life. With no evidence of mauling, and only a few feathers floating under the dining room table, what did they die of? Surprise? Heart attack? Irene Adler (aforementioned cat) is such a monster.
But she’s not a monster. She’s just doing what cats do, and it’s probably the result of boredom, the urge to bring me presents, and with her long-held passion for killing, a pastime she must enjoy being so good at. “Hey,” she seems to say. “I notice you’ve switched away from the expensive, delicious cat food to the less delicious cat food. You must be having trouble hunting again. Don’t worry – I can help!”
Last night I had just gone to bed when I heard the suspiciously smug, long “Mrrrroooow?” she saves for I’ve-just-brought-an-animal-home! occasions, so I went downstairs to investigate. I cast a queasy glance under the table and saw nothing. I went back to bed in a state of denial.
I think I knew what was really going on. She doesn’t normally meow like that – when she wants to be fed or she’s saying hi, she sort of chirps at me, more a repetitive squeaking noise than a meow. This morning, sure enough, I found a dead sparrow under one of the dining room chairs.
I spoke to Itene Adler in very firm tones, hoping that she might understand. “Please take that bird out of my house, NOW,” I said, but she just looked at me fearfully and bolted. She sulked in the garden for about an hour, and then disappeared.
To my credit, I managed to tiptoe around my panic and pretend, temporarily, that the body wasn’t there: I had a shower, and actually got dressed, but then I was stuck, partly because I was now frozen and wretched with The Horror Of It All and party because I had to leave the house and had no shoes on. The corpse stood between me and the shoe cupboard, but I wasn’t abut to step over it. I was supposed to be meeting Mr Č at the airport at 2pm. There had to be a way around this.
When I took the recycling bin out (wearing slippers), I noticed a delivery man outside, getting into his white van. I had been planning on running shamefacedly to number 9 and begging my nice neighbour to come and pick the bird up for me and put it on the bin (this has happened before; she is a compassionate lady), but now I saw another way out.
“Hello. I was wondering… do you think you could do me a favour?”
“Yeeessss,” he said, slowly and with deep suspicion.
“How are you with dead birds?”
Very good, as it turned out, and he was happy to help. He seemed to find the situation hilarious, but declined my offer of tea. He was anxious to get away.
I have been reliably informed this week by people of my own age that temporary metallic tattoos are a thing from the 90s and therefore terribly passé, but since the 90s passed me by (I grew up in Asia and attended strict schools where Fun and Pop Culture were hard to find), I was delighted to discover a nice selection in this month’s Birch Box.
Birch Box is a subscription service that selects beauty-related things for you, puts them in a smallish shoebox, and sends them to you once a month. I don’t know where birches are supposed to come in, but I do like it. I’ve only just started, but I loved the contents of the first box, which came last week: it was full of mini versions of niche/luxury things I wouldn’t have the time or energy to go and search out myself, and it’s silly good value. (In case you were wondering, they did NOT pay me to say this.)
I’ve taken to the temporary tattoos with the enthusiastic abandon of a teenager, much to the chagrin (and — don’t ask me why — amusement) of my friends and husband. Before a concert in Aldeburgh a few nights ago I was threatening to wear one as a “statement necklace” in the gap left by the Monteverdi jacket, a suggestion that was met with such pitying derision that I didn’t follow through. Today, though, off to meet Mr Č at Heathrow and thence to a meet-the-agent writers’ event in London, I thought: yes. I am going to put a gold feather on my wrist. And I will look fey, and super-cool.
Here is the result. Judge for yourself; but I quite like it. And it made me happy, because it felt like a tribute to the poor dead bird. I hope that, frolicking as it must now be in Bird Heaven, its wings are tipped with gold.