A roof day for bird with lofty ambitions
Published at 09:09, Monday, 09 April 2012
IT is with a heavy heart that I must confess I may have contributed to the spectacular decline in the number of midden pickers in the land.
I refer, of course, to the starling, that iridescent delinquent of the skies, with its strident cries and unmistakable hands-in-pockets swagger across the lawn of life.
I have always been a big fan of the starling, and have marvelled at the marvellous murmurations of the giant flocks which wheel and cavort in liquid precision over town and country alike.
Their shimmering feathers and thuggish antics on the bird table are always a joy to behold; even their droppings at elderberry time add a little colour to the garden.
My little contretemps with sturnus vulgaris came the other day whilst lying in bed at Hextol Towers.
Mrs Hextol and I became aware of the patter of footsteps on the roof, and began a debate as to whether they were coming from on top of the roof, or actually inside the roofspace.
What goes on above ceiling height is now a total mystery to me, following the installation of new insulation a couple of years ago.
While I regularly used to squeeze my corpulent frame through the loft hatch and teeter along the joists to examine the water tank and store useless items I couldn’t bear to throw away, it’s now a no-go area.
Mrs Hextol insisted on a bolt being applied to the loft cover, to prevent me getting in there.
My last visit was before the insulation men came, when I had to clear out all the accumulated junk of 30 years’ residence.
Amongst the haul which had to be finagled through the hatch were boxes of Christmas decorations, several computer monitors, crates of 20-year-old school books, enough baby stuff to start a nursery, Mrs Hextol’s wedding dress, a pair of crutches, a pair of ski boots and an eight-berth frame tent and all its associated trappings.
All were lovingly transported up to the garage “to sort out later” as red faced and covered in little yellow balls of fibre glass wadding, I cleared out the residue, including a model railway lay-out of considerable vintage.
Then the insulators came, when I was at work, and access has been denied since.
“You are not putting all that rubbish back up there again,” ruled Mrs Hextol.
“I can’t have you blundering around up there on top of all that new insulation.
“You can’t see the joists now, and you’re guaranteed to come crashing through the ceiling if you even think of going up there.”
I had to concede she had a point; it was hard enough negotiating the loft even when I could see where I was going.
So, for the last couple of years, the loft has been sealed off as effectively as King Tut’s tomb before Howard Carter turned up.
So, hearing the patter of footsteps overhead caused me no great alarm.
“It’s coming from the top of the roof, not inside,” I said confidently. “If it was inside, we wouldn’t hear any noise because of all that fibre glass we had put in.”
Mrs Hextol remained unconvinced, and said: “You’ll have to borrow a ladder and go up and see.”
It was a ludicrous suggestion; if I go more than four rungs up a ladder, I get a nosebleed.
It all stems from an incident when I was fixing disco lights to the roof of a cowshed in preparation for a barn dance, and the ladder slipped.
I made a perfect landing, and was completely unhurt, but I have held a deep and abiding hatred of ladders ever since.
The pattering went on for a couple of days, and then with sinking heart I realised it was being accompanied by a grating, rocking sound like a stone being rolled away from a tomb.
My fears were confirmed later that day when I went outside and saw a starling standing jauntily on the roof, before giving me a wink and disappearing into the roof space behind a slightly shifted slate.
There was nothing for it but to send for the roofing contractor, who shinnied up his ladder, strolled across the roof as though it was Blackpool promenade, and carried out a repair in no time at all.
The pattering and rocking ceased – but I am being haunted by a starling which seems to be staring at me reproachfully, worm in beak!
Published by http://www.hexhamcourant.co.uk