I’d intended an entirely relaxed day, being quite tired after a busy week, and had a glass of red wine with lunch: a symbolic gesture which gave me permission to nap in the afternoon if I wanted to. However, that wasn’t how it worked out. Jamie called in to look at some local postcards I’d found and he phoned his sister, who collects them, and we were chatting over a cup of tea when Roses bobbed in with a gift of cherries and a reminder that she had a problem with her bedroom chimney. I had been going to mention it, but hadn’t yet – anyway, once we looked at the problem, we realised that sweeping the chimney wasn’t the thing that would help.
Baldly. a bird fell down the chimney and she hadn’t been able to get it out and it had died there. And now it was starting to smell. It’s a bit complicated, my fireplaces, they have a clever baffle plate thingy that regulates the draught, but also means there isn’t room for anything much to come down. Once, years ago, a pair of swallows came down our drawing room chimney and, mercifully, were able to get out into the room and we let them out, but this was plainly something bigger. It wasn’t possible to open the plate, Roses thought it was stuck.
It wasn’t stuck, it was blogged by a dead bird. Or rather, dead birds.
I went down to the shop at the end of the road for face masks (far more useful than a corner store, it sells Really Useful Stuff) and when I got back, the lavatory cistern was filling up and Jamie was looking a bit green. He’d got rubber gloves and I’d fetched a torch and some bin bags. He went out to fashion a wire hook of some sort, but I used the time alone to deal with the situation, and pretty ghastly it was. As I said, there is, in effect, a metal ledge and there were dead and rotting birds on it and the only way of getting them out, short of removing the fireplace, was to slip a small hand into the gap and fumble until enough bird – wing or foot – dropped down enough to pull.
Quite enough information given, I managed to do the deed and it involved two pairs of doves or pigeons. And four bin bags. And Jamie was a bit embarrassed that I’d coped better than he. But later, he fashioned a cover for the chimney and managed to put it in place, and I couldn’t have done that, not at arm’s reach at the top of a double ladder. We bonded a bit over that. I remember, many years ago, my friend Gill and I peeling and slicing a whole bag of onions and crying over them for a whole afternoon. A teetotaller, she swigged down a glass of sherry at the end and we vowed eternal friendship. Bit like that.
The day picked up after that when I sold a single postcard for £100. And I plucked some rhubarb from the garden and fed the chickens and am cooking stuffed chicken breast for dinner, which I will have with the remains of last night’s vegetable curry. I won’t say the two dishes will really go together, but no matter. I have opened another bottle of wine, which sounds rather dashing, but it’s just that the lunchtime bottle was red and this evening’s is white. But I may have more than one glass.