Lending a hand is harder than it looks
Published at 09:10, Monday, 16 April 2012
THERE are people who think that my entire working life consists of writing this column.
They believe that all I do is sit back with a large meat pie and a glass of Vimto and think of amusing anecdotes to share with the Tynedale populace.
If only they knew the trials and tribulations I have had to endure in the course of a working week during my 39 years with the Courant.
Not many people know that I am also the Courant’s resident male model, ready to spring into action at a moment’s notice.
The powers-that-be never want my face, for some reason, but whenever the Courant wants a disembodied hand, I’m its man.
My right hand has enjoyed a career all of its own, whether it’s holding a bag of fish and chips in Corbridge to illustrate a tale about men in hi-vis jackets from local authority housing buying a takeaway from a van, or putting money into a pay and display machine in Hexham.
My belly too has been called into service too, for a piece regarding the agreeably plump.
Take last week for instance, when we needed a photograph of the feral pigeons which allegedly threaten the entire future of Hexham.
The well-meaning folk who feed the birds are being demonised by the town council, which is launching a finger-wagging poster campaign against the pigeon feeders.
“We need a picture of someone feeding the pigeons,” I was told, so off I went for a stroll round town, with photographer in tow, trying to find someone with horns and a tail and a bag of corn.
Normally, you can’t stir in Fore Street for bobbing headed, fluttery fantails and the like, fornicating, scratching about and doing what pigeons do in abundance.
On Wednesday, there wasn’t one to be seen.
I wandered round the Abbey Grounds, the Abbey itself and Hexham House grounds, but all the pigeons must have been inside watching the Test Match.
In a moment of inspiration, I went to Gregg’s to purchase one of their delicious but inordinately expensive half-loaves, to risk ignominy by feeding them myself.
In the normal course of events, if I am partaking of a sandwich in the Abbey Grounds, the very rustle of a paper bag brings every pigeon in Tynedale flocking and bobbing hopefully round my feet like St Peter’s Square pilgrims hoping for a blessing from the Pope.
So I sat on my usual bench, crumbled up a slice of bread, tossed a few crumbs abroad – and waited.
The cameraman had his finger poised on the button, but not a bird stirred – not even the wood pigeon observing proceedings from the branches of a lofty lime tree.
I think he would quite like to see his Bash Street Kids cousins brought to book, but there was no sign of them.
We decided we were perhaps in the wrong place, so I carefully gathered up my crumbs, and replaced them in the plastic bag.
We got to the Market Place, where perhaps half a dozen pigeons were sitting on the ridge tiles of the shops, looking bored.
“Better prospects here,” I opined breezily, and opened my little plastic bag to allow the aroma of Gregg’s finest to pervade the air.
The pigeons flew away without a second glance.
However, a promising flock came wheeling out of the Abbey bell tower.
And to encourage them, I scattered a liberal lacing of tasty tit-bits on the Abbey Flags.
Not a bird settled, but I was approached by a member of Hexham Town Council, irate that I was acting in defiance of a civic edict issued only two days earlier.
He was unimpressed by my assertion it was all being done in the name of research, and stumped off, presumably to find the parish constable.
In desperation, I scattered the entire contents of the bag in front of the seat, and waited for the ravenous flying rats to descend.
Ten minutes later, not a single crumb had been molested, with not even a sparrow coming down for a peck.
We retired to some distance away, and one or two inquisitive birds started to look interested from their viewpoint on the Abbey roof.
“This is it,” I breathed to the photographer – but then one of them turned round and pooed on the assembled banquet.
We gave up and went back to the office; several hours later, the bread was still there!
Published by http://www.hexhamcourant.co.uk