Watching and Waiting/ the French Fear

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Watching and saluting

There’s something about the front bedroom on our second floor, known for good reason as the bedroom with the head in a bag. I have noticed that people are inevitably drawn to throw open the right-hand window and shutter when they go in there, even though this room is every bit as derelict as the rest of the house.  Actually, I realise as I write this, it’s probably because there is no electricity in there and so no light. Aha! Now it all makes sense …

Except the head, which wasn’t a head at all in the end, but was and is still in a paper bag

Despite the impressive three-storey leak indoor water feature over our stairway we keep the house as secure and weatherproof as possible. So, when a friend texted me in December that this window was left open and the curtain was billowing – the builders had been in to measure up – another friend kindly went to the rescue and closed it for me

In the loft there are the signs and smells of a vast previous pigeon infestation. When I originally viewed the house I only saw one pigeon up there, but there were eggs too, and so I assumed the worst. I love birds but we could not co-habit. Yet when I returned in August the same eggs were still there and there was something resembling a very dead bird, sort of squished on the floor. The problem was thereby unintentionally solved, and we remain to date a pigeon-free zone

When the builder came to meet me he predictably threw open the window and shutter in question (again), and the sound of pigeons was immediately audible. There were three, lined up on the window ledge directly opposite and peering intently at us, just waiting for someone to make a mistake and provide access to their well-appointed former abode

Some days later as I waited outside for my lift to the airport, I looked up and three of them were again lurking and watching from the loft windowsill, in a pigeon two-fingered salute

There is a fear called ‘Anatidaephobia’, described by M. Google as ‘a pervasive, irrational fear that one is being watched by a duck’ . Disappointingly I now understand that this is an invented condition, though C still claims she has it. It is completely separate from ‘Ornithophobia’, a fear of birds in general, which no-one in our household – not even Mlle C – suffers from (it would make chicken-keeping a challenge)

There is no shortage of pigeons or of semi-derelict properties, particularly in France. Perhaps it’s just me, but I feel there must be a recognised fear of pigeons waiting for you to screw up and leave a window open so that they can get back into your house