It’s been a funny old day. I was ready for a good day’s work (unusual for Monday morning), upcycling a bureau I bought at the weekend. It had already been painted, but very badly, so I thought I’d get ahead of the game with it, rub the existing paint down and use it as a base coat. And it was cheap. I’ve told myself so many times not to buy things unless have my glasses on. A closer inspection of the existing paintwork revealed so many runs I had to use almost a whole pack of sandpaper to get in into a reasonable state. By this time, with an untouched piece, I could have had the first coat of paint on and drying. It’s a hot day, and I was in the full glare of the sun. Usually I paint in the shade under the back porch, but we’ve got young blackbirds in a nest just by the back door, so I’ve been relegated to the open garden.
I opened a new tin of undercoat and started painting, but the brush was dragging and the paint didn’t feel right. Then I read the back of the tin. Alright…I know that should come first, but undercoat is undercoat…isn’t it? Apparently not. My usual, low-fume, quick drying, wash-the-brush-out undercoat had run out, so I’d grabbed another tin from my local hardware store…without reading the back of the tin. This stuff is oil-based, high in fumes and takes 24 hours to dry. I persevered, after all, I’d started, so I might as well finish.
After that I just had time to check my emails in the office. I sit with my back to the fireplace, and I heard ominous noises coming from the chimney. On closer inspection, I saw the grate was full of soot and shards of brick and cement. I’ve seen jackdaws on the roof lately, and they have a habit of nesting in the tops of chimney pots, so I assumed they were kicking the stuff down. Then I went out for three hours.
I came back, checked the paint – which was still wet – no surprise there, then went upstairs. Now I’m not a screamer. I can’t remember the last time I let loose with a full-throated scream of terror. Until today. The bedroom door was half open. I went in just as something launched itself from the corner of the room, straight at my head. Now,as far as I was aware, I was alone in the house. So, yes, I screamed. At which point, the poor terrified pigeon must have thought his world was coming to an end and starting flying in circles round the room before settling on top of the wardrobe.
I thought at first it was a young wood pigeon – we have a lot of them nesting in the garden and surrounding trees, then I saw the ring on its leg and realised it was a racing pigeon. I opened the bedroom window, closed the door, and waited. But my new lodger seemed perfectly content with his new perch. Then I rationalised that, as racing pigeons are used to be handled, this one might just let me affect a rescue. It watched me climb on a chair, then lazily swept out through the open window and away.
I was puzzled – how did the bird get in? Then I remembered the rustling in the chimney. Not jackdaws at all, but my feathered visitor. Sure enough, the fireguard had been knocked over and there was a fair amount of soot in the hearth. On further inspection, it seems the pigeon had a good fly round while it was here, knocking over a mirror and several bottles in the bathroom and leaving sooty footprints in the sink. I think I’ve cleaned up all the mess it made.
Still, I’m grateful for small mercies. At least it didn’t shit on my new paintwork on its way out.