Tuesday, July 30

Feeding the beaver

This is not really the sort of phrase I thought I would ever hear in Listershire, but Father Audrey is very excited by the news that the world famous conservationist (and Native American cross-dresser) Teat Owl is lecturing in the county most shortly. Teat is the son of the illustrious Grey Teat Owl, father being originally from Hustings in Sou'Saxon, and so son is returning to tour old family haunts, including our humble village hall. Naturally he brings his pet semi-aquatic rodent, the oddly named Aleksandr Mere-kit, and it is this opportunity, of seeing his first beaver, that excites Audrey;- so much so he hopes for the chance to feed it, especially as he thinks I will put in a good word for him as I have been asked to give a small blessing and then compere the Mere-kit and his handler for the evening.

For myself, I am in two minds about such showmanship. That Grey Teat Owl, an Englishman by the name of Archie, had to pretend he was of the First Nations blood in order to bring the masses a message to conserve nature is such an odd thing.

But then he and his son are not alone in doing so.

Miss Emily Williamson of the Plumage League (to whom, you will recall, I supply my garden counts) has told me her own organisation is now embarking on such subterfuge. They are in the process of allying themselves with the Fur and Feather League of Sarf London, to form a new "Society for the Protection of Fowle". (You may have heard? Mr Cajun-Aviary has also mentioned it of late; he has been promoting discourse on the announcement of the venture after they advertised in the Thunderer, under the banner headline of "If you shoot it, they will wear it" and with an additional slogan of "Not making wildlife a hat".)

It seems this fledgling "spf" (never "SPF" I am told, as this looks much too shouty to be considered ladylike) actually plans not only to quell feathery fashion in this way, but also to actively protect nature.

Protect? Why perceive such a need, when we have not even fully tamed it yet? No, I am not sure changes like this are for the best. They do say this will bring new support from the man in the gutter, but it will surely lose support among the landed gentry once policy becomes well known. But then they need pennies from as many paupers as possible to meet their new Mission statement (they wish for a new, bigger Mission Hall, a larger Tea Room, and a fully-stocked Ironmongery & Seed and Corn Shoppe at their planned Grimsmere reserve).

Why Miss Emily, like Owls Junior and Senior, hides her true appearance when public speaking now, 'manning-up' by calling herself in all matters fps "Mrs Robert Williamson". Well I must say she looks nothing of the sort(!) I have known RW since boarding days and, whilst he carried a bodice well and high when soprano in Operetta, he certainly has never once owned such a commanding mustache as Emily now hides behind.

Why this need to dress up what is needed? Are our fellow citizens so morally bankrupt they need the twirl of a petticoat, the hirsuite face of total authority and the titivation of the glimpse of beaver just to get them passionate? The notion is all too much for me. The Good Lord never went in for magick, he just stuck to good old loaves and fishes. I think I will decline the compering offer from the Owl, and young Audrey will have to chance his arm alone.

Friday, July 26

Brother Jeremiah Kyle and the Scandinavian jumper-lumpers

As I have promised many of my correspondents I would reveal how I slipped out of the grasp of the Iberian Inquisition, please accept this round robin as my attempt to save my poor wrist from over-exertion. I have been sent, by a source secret, a copy of the official transcript of the actions of that fateful day, from which I have now copied here the most important passages revealing my good fortune. I must quote it as I am sure if I were just to relate the tale in my own words you would think me stringing you along;-


From Cardinal Inquisitor Brother Jeremiah,
Iberian Inquisition 'Broadly casting the Word' department Villa Carnt Tella studio dungeon one,

For the eyes of his most Holy Prosecutor Cardinal Ximinez:

Official Transcript:
The Brother Jeremiah Kyle Show and Tell
July 12th,
Conducting: Brother Jeremiah
(Transcribing: Sister Trisha)

JK: So, as I always say, it's not always going to be what they want to hear, but at least Joseph has now been proved NOT to be this child's father;- let's just hope when the three of them are in a room together they can all act like parents to this kid, who I think is going to be the important one here.
Right, stay with me, coming straight up after the legbreak, my next 'guest', Brother Martin, will be here to defend his writings on variances within the Lord's fowles. And in particular, God's movements in mysterious ways through many suggested types of Seagull, and between which, how do I put this politely.. Deflowering Never 'Appens. But my other 'guest', the Reverend Fumblefinch, will argue that not only do these so-called species put it about a bit, but also there's now unplanned hybrid kids involved. And, here's the thing, no-one can actually tell these kids apart from each other. Which one will walk out of here believed in? We'll be back with those all-important DNA results, don't go away..

(fast forward to)

BM: Of course the Herring Seagull is the father, the first winter plumage looks just like him. How sure am I Jeremiah? Bleep me, I'm a hundred per cent that I'm fifty fifty, that's how sure.

BF: Then you have to step up Brother Martin, prove you be a man and put a scientific binomial on the end of it.

JK: Right, that's enough the pair of you, you're both doing my 'ead in. Let's do what we've held you here for, let's do those results. As always, I, like everyone else, have absolutely no idea of what some of these seagulls actually are.
(Long pause)
We asked Brother Martin, since becoming involved with seagulls, have you ever made a dodgy claim on sexual reproduction abilities? That's on anything from a slight plumage dalliance right up to full-on species status. You said-

(Long pause, then, entering in haste, two wimmin priests draped in spangled knitwear, from stage left):

(Unknown #1) Shtop there Brother Jeremiah(!) Thish ish not shuitable shubject for a shimple-witted audiench shuch ash thish.
We are the Lutheran lay-detectivesh Agnetha Wallander and Anni-Frid Lund, and we are here to bring back Brother Martin to join ush in our dull Schandinavian sheries of sthudies working to detect a sphecies in every shhape of sheagull.

JK: I've seen it all now (!) Security(!!) I want these two off my stage, right now(!)

AW: (for Unknown #1 is indeed she): No(!) We do not be leaving without Brother Martin(!) Your Chursh ish only intereshted in shock tacky ticksh;- Martin's dullnessh plainly fitsh with our movement. His preachinessh will be most welcome on our long winter nightsh.
We will now drone on until you shay we have our way.

JK: Se-cu-rit-eeee(!)

AFL+AW: (singing in protest)
The judgesh will dechide,
the likesh of us abide,
Spectatorsh of the Gull,
alwaysh lishting low,
The sphlit is on again,
no lumper ish a friend,
A big gull or a shmall,
the winner ticksh 'em all-ll-ll-ll-ll..."

JK: Errr, hang on, where's Fumblefinch gone now? This is really doing my 'ead in(!)


And that was that. I had seized my chance.

The guards had left their posts to try to stop (unsuccessfully I understand) 'the Falsterbo three' from leaving. In the ensuing confusion I simply walked out, my head down, chanting aloud some Popery I had picked up about the idolatry of 'self-found tickage' (so as to look the part of a smug cleric) and then headed straight to the nearest coach-house.

One tiresome but, thankfully, uneventful journey later I arrived home and gave strict orders to my housemaid Clara that I was not to be disturbed and that the door not to be opened without my say-so.

Of course, I am now wondering what to do when, as they surely must, the Inquisition returns. I feel a little trapped, rather like Reverend Julian of the vicar-leaks scandal. But for now the Inquisition seem engrossed in dealing with the Bull of Black Scoterings, delays to news of the arrivals of both Mongolian Pluvver and Golden Pluvver of the Pacific, the Transubstantiation of the Baird's White-rumped and the very many visions of rarest raptors reported in these the end of summer times, to be worried about the small matter of this inconsequential individual.

And I do have a safety plan near to hatching. If I am to be saddled with him for some time then Father Prattlechat could well be of diversionary assistance. If he were to be the first to answer any door knocked in the night his simple fervours surely should be enough to cause any agent of the Inquisition to forget the original cause for visiting(!)


Monday, July 22

A short note to Revd Prattlechat re Sunday's reading from the King James Bible, Luke 2:24


I am putting this in writing in the hope that it sticks, as I am clearly having trouble getting you to understand through discourse.

The Bible is indeed a most wonderful book, being as it is the word of God- as written down by man and so we ought be able to interpret a little from time to time. Now this recent instance of you calling upon those Parishioners blessed with children to make compulsory sacrifice by going out and shoot our last few remaining Turtle Doves around the village is one such case where we need perhaps apply a modicum of humanity.

True, as you have pointed out in the New Testament it does indeed say
"And to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, a Pair of Turtle Doves, or two young pigeons..

And yes, I do not disagree something most similar had been announced in the Old Testament in Leviticus 12. But through growing rarity do you not think the Lord will be displeased with us if we use up all up his wondrous Turtl'y creations in this way Audrey?

No, it is bad enough our American cousins of the Western Borough Baptists have used up all their Passenger Pigeons in such wasteful ways. Now they have none, so by your logic then their children can never be blessed again?? No Audrey, you must recognise we will soon be in a similar situation but we still have time to care for Creation if we substitute prayer for A Dove for The Above. Future generations will thank us.

The Parish Council and our Church Elders are in total agreement;-

No more Turtle Doves are to be shot as sacrifice
for any first-born children of this Parish.
For never and never, again.*


(*The only exception is of course (1) Oriental Turtle Dove;- should one should ever turn up in the county then a sacrifice for a scientific purpose, not religious, may indeed be made.)

Friday, July 19

Sleepless nights of the Round Table

My dear Dean Cliff,

I am sorry you are unable to entertain me at present, but I can understand how busy you must be bringing a form of peace to troubled parts. Indeed, among some of the papers received in my absence are various letters penned by my once-regular correspondent Weasel on the very same matter you now work upon- this recent Sou'Saxon mutiny. I have found it a little hard to keep up with. My own understanding is thus;-

- That a Crossedbille of the Parotte variety was spied in the county in the early part of last year, an identification ticked by many and questioned by as many again.

- That a written description of the bird had to be placed upon the Round Table before all the Sou'Saxon Liste-keepers for judgement.

- That the identity of the bird was, of late, pronounced as 'proven' upon their webbelogge.

- That, after Weasel didst lead an outcry against acceptance, a serving member of the round table of Sou'Saxon Liste-keepers did break all rules of chivalry and reveal, most publicly and intimately, that he had questioned the identity and, as such, the Crossedbille should have then circled the table again.

- That more heraldic codes were then shaken as rumours of political lobbying within the Knights of that Table surfaced.

- That the opine of the greatest Knight, Judge, Juror and Executioner in the land, Sir Listsalot, was then given freely to the Table, and that the said opine was backed by evidential runic writings from a famous foreign mercenary, but his words would not be placed formally into the public forum as Listsalot had of late found that birding plebs were not just simply reading and taking as Gospel all of his electronic pronouncements but had instead taken to quoting him word for word elsewhere. And that the Knight simply will not allow anyone to make their own interpretation of his truths.

- That, following these heated debates for reasons unbeknownst, the webbelogge page entry now shows 'pended', with acceptance withdrawn for the moment.

Oh what a tangled web! For a record in the rounds of the table to be openly questioned by one of its Knights-Protectors in public is something no true Knight wishes to see. But their code is broke, for all to see. We are led to believe their judgements are passed without base comment, without lobby from from the 'haves' (on their listes) or the 'have-nots' (on theirs) and that all their decisions are honourable;- but, once again, such processes are shown to be open to fowle play. That judgement upon any County Rare is made by a process most Medieval has been accepted for millennia as the most honourable path to take, but if the unkempt listing masses now start challenging such procedures, I can only see revolution. Why, the unwashed might even start to clamour for scientific observation and sound judgement (one thing all Denominations would surely denounce!).

Perhaps the Knights around that table need reminding that, whilst seemingly they sit as equals there, if one of their number desires a bird upon his county liste then he should not ever be denied. We must keep to the system, keep the masses under the yoke or else common birderers will desert their County Societies, we will enter an era of unreported sightings and the Darke Ages will be upon us again.

No, we should always support County Societies in blind faith, no matter how archaic their approach. Sou'Saxon still requires descriptions for Greate Auke, and so it should ever be.

The matter of young Audrey lodging with me can wait a little longer. This is much more important. I wish you good fortune in your peacemaking.


So that's six 'zeros' and a 'one' from the voting committee??

Sunday, July 14

So there he is. Risen from the dead. Like that feller. E.T.

My dear Konan,

I hope this note finds you well. After 40 days in the wilderness, I too have now made it home. I do not yet find my strength returned, so will keep this note short. (I will tell you more of my release later.) The main thing is the secret of the mappe appears to remain safe for now. The county name was not revealed. And neither could the Inquisition make sense of the further clue they found, that it related to a county also web-publishing a confirmed breeding mappe for Dunling south of the Thames. There is still time for this to be hid deeper.

I know you keep low on your marshes at the moment, but here I now intend to hide in plain sight by taking up my duties in the Parish again. I am telling my parishioners that I have been involved in overseas expeditionary work this past month, more precisely as the assigned naturalist to an expeditionary force, hence the need for my webnette silence these weeks past (I have purchased some stuffings from Bristow to cover tracks).

My main problem appears to be the appointment of a replacement priest in my absence. I am forced, for now, to share my humble abode with one Reverend Audacious Prattlechat. I am hopeful I can get 'Audrey' returned to the Capitol as soon as possible. He has an interest in natural history for sure, but is a most excitable young Cleric, twitching at ev'ry bird espied in the churchyard, and, most irritatingly, claiming at every opportunity to have a Global liste, a Commonwealth liste, a TUKOGBANI liste and a county liste bigger than any of my own. I do try to point out I just observe and record Parish birds, but he so confuses the importance of listes. I tell him "Audrey, my liste area is small, those are far away" but it matters to him not, and on he goes. I have asked for a meeting with Dean Cliff as soon as possible.

I finish for now as I must catch up on recent happenings; there appears to be oh so very much for me to comment upon in the coming weeks.

In the meantime,
Keep well, keep safe,