Monday, September 22, 2008

Pidgeon English

Category: Issue 12

Pigeon English. Words 630

The American tourist placed a well-manicured finger on the map. ‘We’re here, honey, a village called Thay – Den – Bois.’ He took his wife’s arm. ‘There must be a pub around. Every English village has a public house.’

‘And a market place,’ his wife said, as she put the last morsel of a meat pie between her lips and licked her fingers. ‘I guess it’s not hygienic buying food off a stall, but I was starving and that meat pie sure tasted good.’

They meandered along Main Street, a combination of cottages with a few shops mixed in like after-thoughts. The couple scrutinised each red brick building for a public house sign above the doorway.

The tourist’s wife grumbled about the lack of amenities and the terrible British weather. ‘Ya could die of thirst or cold in this dammed country,’ she muttered

They had almost reached the outskirts of the village, when the tourist’s wife took a sharp breath, and with a slim hand heavy with rings, she clutched at her husbands sleeve.

‘Look at that, Clarence. Ya ever see such a thing? All those birds gathered around that old woman.’ She pointed over a low hedge to a woman in a nearby garden.

Pigeons, white, grey markings of black on wing and back, swooped and landed with a flutter to parade around the woman like disarrayed soldiers. They placed pink tinged feet precisely, one in front of the other, on flagstones white with droppings.

The old woman sat before a slatted, wood table and dipped her hand into a large, brown paper bag. In steady rhythm she scattered birdseed in a wide arcs across the adjoining lawn with lumpy, uncared for hands.

The tourists watched until the bag was empty. ‘I think she must be one of those English eccentrics. Pigeons are vermin; look at the mess on the patio and windows.’ The tourist’s wife shuddered. ‘Look at that pigeon poop all over her. She looks mighty weird to me. Whatcha think, honey?’

Clarence eyed the woman. Wiry grey hair appeared to be reaching for the sky, she wore opened toe sandals from which poked yellow nailed toes, and the sleeves and shoulders of her faded cardigan bore the white stained attentions of the birds.

He shrugged. ‘The English are all weird.’

The birds scattered like snow in the wind as the old woman rose and walked purposefully toward a brick structure close to the house.

‘Is that a Kiln? What the hell is she doing now?’ Clarence said

‘How’d I know – perhaps she’s into pottery.’ The tourist’s wife pulled at his arm. ‘Let’s go, I don’t want to stand here all day watching a filthy old woman. Let’s go get a beer, I’m thirsty.’

Even the promise of a cool beer could not distract Clarence’s attention from strange looking old woman. ‘Just let’s wait and see what she does. She might be a famous sculptress, perhaps we can pick up something cheap.’

A faint snigger came from behind him. ‘What, old Rosie a sculptress? That’s a joke.’

Clarence turned and faced the speaker, a well dressed, middle-aged man in a check cap.

‘Then why has she a Kiln in her garden?’

The man eyed the crumbs, nestling on the chest of tourist’s wife.

‘That’s not a Kiln old chap, that’s an oven,’ he replied

The tourist’s wife snorted. ‘See didn’t I tell ya, honey, the Brits are all crazy. What does she want with an oven in the garden?’

The well dressed man gave a sly smile. ‘She catches birds in a net, bakes them into pies and her daughter sells them to you tourists on market day - and I’ve heard it said, they are very nice too - that’s if you don’t get food poisoning.’

Please note I have taken the pee out of the Brits as well as the USA tourists wink