The onset of spring is a private delight in these parts. Our little community watches the nest building antics of the Tourterelles long before the first tourists arrive. The strawberry fields are plundered for the remnants of straw that protected the berries; the fleece that covers the fragile plants is torn apart to line the nests. It is a wonderful, but essentially silent time.
We judge summer to have arrived with the first sighting of the You’d’vethought Bird. Her clarion call can be heard loud and clear above the noise of the market. Her plumage strangely muted, in striking contrast to the male.
This morning, as I sat down to enjoy my morning coffee, taking an outside seat, but resting my arm on the edge of a table still inside the café, I heard the piercingly insistent cry of a You’d’vethought just inches behind me.
I was strangely excited; I couldn’t see her, but I could hear that she was calling to the rest of her flock. I am always concerned that they might have perished in the cold and damp of their winter hibernating grounds, but this one had made the long journey to their summer watering hole in perfect condition – and what a specimen she was!
“You’d’vethought, You’d’vethought” she warbled.
It was a thrilling sound.
“You’d’vethought they’d have painted those shutters since last year, they just don’t care, do they?”
I leaned closer – you don’t often get the chance to observe one at close quarters so early in the season.
“You’d’ve thought someone would have served us by now”
“Oh God, that woman’s smoking, I thought they’d stopped all that”
A ‘righteous’ You’d’vethought, what exquisite luck! Right on my table. The table I sit at, Sunday after Sunday, week in week out; I blew an extra special smoke ring.
“Oh look darling, you’dvethought they’d cover all that cheese up, that’s disgusting”
The male You’d’vethought was distracted, he didn’t answer, too busy trying to figure out how to get served in the chaos that is Arnaud’s on a Sunday morning.
“Oh my God, daaaaaarling, look at that poor dog, oh that’s terrible, awful”
The male made a strange choking sound, either trying to order coffee or answering her, I couldn’t make it out.
“But daaarling, they need educating, they are just peasants, they need to be taught, they have to learn how cruel it is”
Good God – had I missed a male You’d’vethought putting up a spirited defence of the reason why farmers dock the tails of hunting dogs? And peasants? This was a fine pedigree You’d’vethought.
“You’d’vethought they wouldn’t be allowed to have those cables all over the place”
I quivered with anticipation, this was positively orgasmic, it couldn’t be long now…..indeed it wasn’t…….she was about to lay….
“Oh God, oh God, oh God”
The Fois Gras stall had just trundled into sight, right bang under her beak. Slabs of freshly cooked Fois Gras were laid out as the ‘peasants’ clustered round.
“It should be stopped, it’s terrible the way they treat those Geese”
The noise level rose and I missed a large chunk of the conversation. She trilled louder, a voice honed by elocution lessons that could carry to the back of the auditorium.
I tuned in again in time to hear….
“Giles said the City is empty now, they’ve ruined the economy, you can’t just tax the entrepreneurs out of existence, we’re giving all this money to these immigrants and they don’t integrate, they don’t want to be like us, it’s just moan, moan, moan….’
I idly wondered whether there was another variety of the You’d’vethought bird, perched outside a mosque in Rochdale, merrily trilling ‘You’d’vethought they’d go to Mosque on a Sunday, they need educating, they are just peasants, they need to be taught, they have to learn……’
“Oh thank God, she put it out, finish your coffee darling”
Naturally I lit another cigarette instantly.
“You’d’vethought she’d have sat somewhere else. It’s blowing all over me”
Mr G returned.
“Shall I get a chicken” he boomed.
“Shush, keep your voice down, I’m listening, there’s a prize one right behind me, tell me what she looks like” I whispered.
Mr G doesn’t do subtle. He has a voice honed from years of booming instructions above the noise of the winds and the waves of the Southern Cross.
“Beard, Golfing hat, khaki shorts, long black socks, walking shoes, she’s got some sort of linen trouser suit, long nose, Waitrose shopping bag”
Helpful, but far too loud Mr G, you’ve startled her, she’s flying away.
“It’s very rude to talk about people as though they can’t hear you, we speak English you know” she said in the withering tones of one putting a peasant in his place, as she swept past us, head tilted back – a perfect Roman nose in profile.
Arnaud rushed outside, arms raised aloft in despair. They hadn’t paid for their coffee.
Summer is truly here.