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farewell to Hawkins Street

Blackbird Turf WarStill in the catch-up zone with this-week's strip which goes all the way back to spring in the garden of Hawkins Street and deciding it wasn't worth doing anything about the state of it, given that we'd be gone soon enough and anyway the birds were really liking it. Every morning (and most evenings) the Blackbirds would start calling and fighting, occasionally attacking people, cats, windows. Blackbirds aren't usually so territorial, but the garden was full of odd sorts -- my favourites were a photo-shy gay pigeon couple.

The day the nest finally got torn down I was working flat-out on a comic strip, but the sheer volume of bird-noise got me out of the door. The nest was in ruins and at the back of the garden, looking nervous and guilty, was not the regular old black-and-white tom whose prowl I'm on (he'd been chased off by the birds) but a skinny, twitchy-looking youngster, too old to call a kitten but not really adult yet, his pedigree-even smoky grey fur hinting at a privileged background.

He gave me an insolent stare with tea-coloured eyes, and I chased him off, furious. There was just one nestling, well-fed and healthy, apart from being dead. He'd eaten the head and left me the rest.

It was an odd-place, where I lived on Hawkins Street; an old Printer's yard [Edit: apparently it was actually a huge industrial laundry, with a yard out back for the vans.] had been covered with tiny modern houses that felt like tents, a percentage luxury-ownered, a percentage private-rented and a percentage council-house. Mine was a rental next to a council house that specialised in couples/parents with one or two toddlers. Just before we left, a new family had moved in; although there were always baby clothes on the line outside (in all weathers) we neither heard nor saw the child or mother (usually a problem with the paper-thin walls) after their initial visit; just four or five adult men, coming and going, coming and going.

I wasn't sorry to leave.


Thanks for all your fabulous responses to the Cup of Sperm Poll. With 56 responses, it already has a bigger sample than the study which inspired it, and I'm confident we can make it even more scientific if we try. In the mean-time, I'm pleased to report that the percentage of people who like their men-friends to look good on a sofa has gone up to over 55%, and new additions to features that make a man attractive include dressing like a pirate, buying star wars lego and letting you play with it, and "the ability to make up amusing stories about a stout cross cat's secret life".

I've probably said it before, but I love you guys!


( 20 worms — Feed the birds )
18th Aug, 2005 16:53 (UTC)
Wasn't it a laundry?
18th Aug, 2005 17:22 (UTC)
what, all of Galpin Close?
Must've been a pretty big laundry. I suppose I may have made an assumption -- most of the small commerical units they're building over in the area were bookbinders/printers.
18th Aug, 2005 18:00 (UTC)
Re: what, all of Galpin Close?
You are sowing doubt in my tiny little mind. Certainly the side of Hawkins Street opposite chez e_pepys was one building. Whether it really occupied the whole area of Galpin Close I'm not sure, to be honest, but I don't remember there being a laundry AND something else.
I don't know where laundries are these days, maybe they are all outsourced to India :-)
19th Aug, 2005 00:22 (UTC)
Re: what, all of Galpin Close?
I was in a row of ten or twelve houses, and there are about as many out back in the close. I thought there was a yard there -- maybe behind the laundry?
19th Aug, 2005 07:10 (UTC)
Re: what, all of Galpin Close?
Yeah, the whole of that row was the laundry. I guess it may have had some sort of yard for deliveries etc. If I had to use my false memory syndrome I would say that it had a physical entry on Leopold Street i.e. the yard was enclosed in a kind of courtyard.
19th Aug, 2005 10:14 (UTC)
wow, big!
OK, I'll edit the entry. I remember the entry in Leopold street, too, so we must have that right have been abducted by the same set of aliens
18th Aug, 2005 18:51 (UTC)
Blackbirds are always territorial in the spring, everywhere. Less so at other times of the year, though.
19th Aug, 2005 00:23 (UTC)
I'd never seen a set
go at it with quite so much gusto, though.
18th Aug, 2005 19:06 (UTC)
Heart the strip.
Here in the Midwest, blackbirds are up there with Mussolini (not Hitler-rank, but still...not that far away) on account of their dirty habit of eating every fucking piece of corn in the fields.

I used to know guys who would fire birdshot into the air when the hoards of them (think 1000+) flew overhead and laugh with each one that fell...
18th Aug, 2005 21:15 (UTC)
Do you mean the same bird we mean? Our blackbirds live mostly on snails and worms, and never fly in flocks.
18th Aug, 2005 21:19 (UTC)
Re: Blackbirds?
Sorry, over here in Mur'ca, as Resident Bush likes to say, we're talking this:


Take a look at the flocking pictures...that's what we see.
19th Aug, 2005 00:18 (UTC)
ah, yes
I should've thought of that. Meet Turdus Merula, a mild-mannered garden bird of the thrush family. That's a Blackbird round these parts. They eat worms, hop around in flower-beds and nest in hedges.

"Blackbird" is a sort of generic term in the states, isn't it? I remember I once read this book which went on and on about blackbirds pecking the eyes out of corpses ... a rather hilarious image to the UK birdwatcher !

We have starlings here, but we call them Starlings. The grackle-crow-cowbird thingies, not really -- the nearest equivalent is probably a Jackdaw and they don't flock.
19th Aug, 2005 00:26 (UTC)
we have crows, of course.

But they're larger and more solitary.
19th Aug, 2005 00:31 (UTC)
Re: ah, yes
We, too, call them starlings...and in spite of that website's claims, I've never heard of anybody call a raven a blackbird.

On a side note, "turdus"...*snicker*
19th Aug, 2005 00:38 (UTC)
one of them used to be called
Turdus Turdus, but I think the ornithologists decided that was just too silly
18th Aug, 2005 19:26 (UTC)
"the ability to make up amusing stories about a stout cross cat's secret life".

I must have responded to this poll in my sleep, since that's what I would have written too. Also I am not averse to pirates.
19th Aug, 2005 00:31 (UTC)
why haven't you responded then? Come on! I need a bigger sample!
19th Aug, 2005 08:10 (UTC)
This Week's Strip...
Dunno if I've mentioned this before, but you consistently give excellent foliage.
19th Aug, 2005 08:12 (UTC)
Enjoyed Michael Buerk on R4 yesterday, sounding really uncomfortable and harrassed. Serves 'im right. Cackle.
19th Aug, 2005 10:12 (UTC)
Well, I can't imagine his line went down any better with his male friends than it did with the women ...

classic sexism -- damages both parties.
( 20 worms — Feed the birds )