Archive for December, 2007|Monthly archive page

Is it a battle?

Many thanks to all of you who have sent comments about yesterday’s post. We are still reeling from what happened to the poor birds. His bee hive also got kicked over – but the bees seem to have survived. I’ve just been up to the allotment to see for myself and walk around – I must say the soul has gone out of the place for me – no noisy greeting as I arrived, nobody to talk to, or squabbles to sort out, no-one to feed out of my hand – just feathers everywhere. Laurie and Charlie (our allotment neighbour) did their best to clear as much as possible but those birds lost a lot of feathers. The police seem to consider that this was carried out by youths on drugs – most of the crime in these parts at the moment is due to the effects of drug taking and the need to get money for the next hit. I suppose we should think ourselves lucky that the violence we have been affected by was suffered by our birds and not our family members – but Laurie and I sat there last night very tempted to pack our bags for some foreign place where we could escape this kind of occurrence – Daily Mail phrases flashing through our heads. I realise how much violence I have absorbed from TV and movies as I imagine what acts I would carry out, faced with those responsible – me the fair minded liberal.

The local news last night had an item about a young man who has been jailed for stabbing another man at a bus stop. He had been seen on CCTV cycling through the streets, on the pavement, through the shopping centre (covered pedestrian centre) and out the other side. Just as he approached a bus stop, a man stepped backwards to read the bus timetable more clearly and they collided – the bus stop man shouted at the young cyclist, who promptly pulled a knife (£2 from Tesco Metro) and stabbed him to death. When asked why he had been carrying a kitchen knife he said that he was afraid of being attacked and carried it for his protection. Each morning I drive Curly Boy to school, then park the car at the bottom of the hill where I meet Al and we walk into work – I take the same route as the cyclist, through the estate where he lives, across the road, through the same shopping centre – Al and I often have to pull up short for hooded lads on push bikes and neither she nor I are afraid if pointing out our displeasure at almost being knocked down – so the man at the bus stop could very well be me, or her, or any of the people I know who go about their business day to day. We’re not playing by the same rule book anymore, codes of conduct no longer apply. This morning’s news is of ‘internal trafficking’ of girls as young as ten (the trafficking of British girls within the UK for prostitution).  

Our allotment is a small space for us to escape all of the stuff that goes on outside, but now I wonder how we will feel if the buildings get trashed, or burned, or Curly Boy’s summer house damaged, or the trees we have planted uprooted. Laurie is determined that we will carry on regardless and replace the chickens – put a lock on the enclosure gate and a padlock on the hen-house door (he and Charlie have already put 6″ nails across the top of the entrance gates to prevent someone from climbing over that way) – but I am still not sure. How can we know they won’t come back again? Did they come to bother the chickens? Did they come to steal? Did they know the chickens were there or was it a spur of the moment thing? If I could fathom the ‘why’ I might be able to know how to carry on with it all, but I don’t think there is a why in this case.

The joy of an allotment is that it is a piece of land right in the heart of a city, but unlike privately owned land, the very nature of it draws attention of the worst kind. There will always be moochers and thieves and vandals where there are allotments, greenhouses will always be smashed and sheds broken into. So why bother? Laurie says we must bother so that ‘they’ don’t win. But I don’t think it’s a battle, they just do it because it’s there.

and then there were none

Somebody broke into our allotment on Sunday night (we think) and broke the necks of our ten chickens and our one remaining cockerel. I’m so upset and angry that I can’t tell anybody, so I thought I’d tell you lot. Poor Laurie went up there today to check their water and food to find them strewn about the place. Those poor battery babies had only a brief spell of freedom and the cockerel had only just plucked up the courage to boss the girls around. Mummy hen and her original chicks have been with me for nearly four years.