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 Youâdâvethought 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 cafÃ©, I heard the piercingly insistent cry of a Youâdâvethought just inches behind me.
I was strangely excited; I couldnât 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 â and what a specimen she was!
âYouâdâvethought, Youâdâvethoughtâ she warbled.
It was a thrilling sound.
âYouâdâvethought theyâd have painted those shutters since last year, they just donât care, do they?â
I leaned closer â you donât often get the chance to observe one at close quarters so early in the season.
âYouâdâve thought someone would have served us by nowâ
âOh God, that womanâs smoking, I thought theyâd stopped all thatâ
A ârighteousâ Youâdâvethought, 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.
âOh look darling, youâdvethought theyâd cover all that cheese up, thatâs disgustingâ
The male Youâdâvethought was distracted, he didnât answer, too busy trying to figure out how to get served in the chaos that is Arnaudâs on a Sunday morning.
âOh my God, daaaaaarling, look at that poor dog, oh thatâs terrible, awfulâ
The male made a strange choking sound, either trying to order coffee or answering her, I couldnât make it out.
âBut daaarling, they need educating, they are just peasants, they need to be taught, they have to learn how cruel it isâ
Good God â had I missed a male Youâdâvethought putting up a spirited defence of the reason why farmers dock the tails of hunting dogs? And peasants? This was a fine pedigree Youâdâvethought.
“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 couldnât be long nowâ¦..indeed it wasnâtâ¦â¦.she was about to layâ¦.
âOh God, oh God, oh Godâ
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 âpeasantsâ clustered round.
âIt should be stopped, itâs terrible the way they treat those Geeseâ
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 hearâ¦.
âGiles said the City is empty now, theyâve ruined the economy, you canât just tax the entrepreneurs out of existence, weâre giving all this money to these immigrants and they donât integrate, they donât want to be like us, itâs just moan, moan, moanâ¦.â
I idly wondered whether there was another variety of the Youâdâvethought bird, perched outside a mosque in Rochdale, merrily trilling âYouâdâvethought theyâd go to Mosque on a Sunday, they need educating, they are just peasants, they need to be taught, they have to learnâ¦â¦â
âOh thank God, she put it out, finish your coffee darlingâ
Naturally I lit another cigarette instantly.
âYouâdâvethought sheâd have sat somewhere else. Itâs blowing all over meâ
Mr G returned.
âShall I get a chickenâ he boomed.
âShush, keep your voice down, Iâm listening, thereâs a prize one right behind me, tell me what she looks likeâ I whispered.
Mr G doesnât 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.
âBeard, Golfing hat, khaki shorts, long black socks, walking shoes, sheâs got some sort of linen trouser suit, long nose, Waitrose shopping bagâ
Helpful, but far too loud Mr G, youâve startled her, sheâs flying away.
âItâs very rude to talk about people as though they canât hear you, we speak English you knowâ she said in the withering tones of one putting a peasant in his place, as she swept past us, head tilted back â a perfect Roman nose in profile.
Arnaud rushed outside, arms raised aloft in despair. They hadnât paid for their coffee.
Summer is truly here.