DAY 40: World Earth Day

Sorry chicks, your favourite spot has been annexed.

The chickens seem to know it’s World Earth Day and are loud in their demands to be let out to enjoy the garden’s delights.

Nature is showing off his morning. The foxes have strewn across the road the varied contents of all the extra rubbish bags the refuse collector refused to take from the student house where half a dozen young people are holed up with only two wheelie bins between them. For the second day running I picked up the stuff that had ended up in the Back Lane. I knocked on their door and suggested they ask the neighbours politely if they can put one bag each into their wheelie bins. Good as gold the students came out and cleaned up. I am sure the neighbours are sympathetic so long as the students are more considerate about the volume of their music.

Loud noises from the chicken run – a black cat is disturbing the tranquility of the Blue Moran, a rather fetching grey feathered hen attempting lay her fits egg. Jempson to the rescue. Then it is time for a late breakfast al fresco.

I never knew I had so many friends. As I settle down with a poached egg on toast, a mug of coffee and the latest edition of Private Eye, all five chickens gather at my feet. They are looking up at me and seem to be saying sotto voce “We supplied the eggs, the least you can do is share your breakfast.” I studiously ignored them and was surprised when they suddenly took off, on foot, rushing across the lawn. Looking around to see if a squirrel or a cat or even a fox had startled them, ?I see that they have headed fir a relocated bird table from which a pigeon has taken off. The aren’t stupid. They know instinctively that seed will have been spilled. And Mother Hen is back on top, giving her rival a real good pecking as they squabble over the seeds. 

A call comes in revealing that some of the destitute asylum seekers in the city have yet to be properly accommodated. The City Council has managed to house the vast majority of Bristol’s homeless (funny how easy it can be when the chips are down), but finding appropriate housing for people who came to the UK seeking sanctuary is proving more difficult. They are destitute because the Home Office has chosen not to believe their stories; that makes them unworthy of public support – even when a potentially deadly virus is putting the vulnerable at particular risk. Refugee support groups are lobbying the Council to ensure that people who had been sofa-surfing, far from home and family, can be found a safe place in which to self-isolate.

The craziness of the British system is that those who came seeking a new life are forbidden to work while the government brings in workers from the Europe Britain wants to leave, to pick fruit and vegetables to feed the country. Yet those who languish in sub-standard accommodation or in detention centres would like nothing better than to be useful working members of society, even before decisions are made about their claims. This is as disgraceful as it is ironic.

The long awaited chicken wire is delivered. Now I can section off part of the garden from the predations of the chickens – the area that they most often use for dust baths is ideal for vegetables. My house guests appears just sat the right moment. I will not be able to fix it up alone.

He has not been feeling too good – nothing to do with the incredibly rich chicken bakes he made yesterday, he assures me. “Better than Greggs,” he had assured me, last evening when he produced them. They were – and much bigger. I only wished I had not just finished a bowl of ice-cream when he brought me one. Delicious. 

Between us we put up the fencing and cover the top with the netting I originally got to protect the fruit on the cherry tree. I’ve never managed to get more than a couple of cherries each yea. The birds love them. The tree is far too big now, but the netting is ideal for the vegetable enclosure.

If the weather holds out I should be finished the garden make over soon, and I can turn my attention to other task. I might even get round to the writing and reading I had been expecting to do. But the next big indoor task (apart from cleaning the living room) is to complete the playlist for my #BristolDJsUnite session on Twitter this coming Sunday.

My reading session with my grandsons ended abruptly when the Internet collapsed on us. However I was able to speak with my aged godmother at her care home. The virus has nor struck there, thank goodness, and she seems fine if a little confused about what is happening in the outside world.

But now I am knackered and ready for bed after a supper of bangers and mash.

Mike J

Journalist, trainer, editor; storyteller; amateur historian.

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