Last night descended into a scene of utter chaos. I had just finished having dinner with my friend Marina and her 11-year-old son Lucas when all of a sudden Marina began screaming at the top of her lungs. This was odd behaviour coming from her. She’s a woman who most people would consider tough as nails. She is the only female in her local football team, she swears like a trooper and puts most men to shame with her weight lifting abilities. So if she screams blue murder you know something unfathomable is happening.
I swung around to see Marina engulfed in a cloud of dust and an odd little creature scuttling around on the floor.
My instinct was to scream too. I’m sure if Marina hadn’t been screaming I probably would have remained quite calm but I experienced a bizarre empathic effect and simply joined in with the overdramatic horror. I didn’t even know why I was screaming. It was just an automatic reflex. I screamed for so long that Marina stopped screaming then saw that I was still screaming and so started up again. And so it went on before I finally recovered my senses and realised the creature on the kitchen floor was nothing more than a very confused pigeon. The silly bird had fallen down the chimney and just as Marina had crouched down to throw an old pizza box into the fireplace the bird came tumbling out onto her feet.
The cat, after jumping out of its skin and dashing from the room, soon came skidding back in once she realised her missed opportunity. The pigeon reacted by flapping up around my face and then clumsily bouncing off the walls in a panicked bid for freedom. There then ensued a long game of chasing the feathered creature back and forth around the kitchen while the cat darted through my feet, over chairs and onto the table. Unlike the pigeon and myself, she was having the time of her life!
It was only when things calmed down a bit that we realised Lucas was missing. We found him curled up behind the sofa sobbing his eyes out. Having a naturally nervous disposition, the poor child became utterly terrified when both his mother and friend – the trusted adults responsible for his well being – stood shrieking hysterically in the kitchen. He turned on his heels and fled; reduced to a quivering wreck and clearly in a state of shock. It took quite some time to console him and explain the source of all the blood-curdling terror was just a lost bird.
After catching the pigeon and carefully releasing it away from the drooling cat, we decided to put a film on to take her boy’s mind off things. But it was an unfortunate choice. We watched ‘The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas’ which sounds like a lovely cosy title, doesn’t it? But it turned out to be a particularly disturbing tale about a Nazi concentration camp with a rather traumatic ending. So on top of dealing with the fright of pigeon-gate, he also had to learn for the first time ever about how the Nazis gassed the Jews to death in gas chambers.
Oddly enough, he handled the new knowledge of mass exterminations rather better than the sight of two middle-aged women having melt-down over a pigeon!