I hate buying new shoes and dislike even more having to wear them. So, after finding that my toes were beginning to emerge through holes in my work shoes and into the view of customer’s and worse Harrod’s management’s view, I purchased three new pairs. Two for work, including one pair that were advertised as particularly flexible. At the end of the day, I wasn’t sure that being flexible was necessarily a good thing. I found myself hobbling, and almost unable to walk the half-mile down to the canal from the station, thence around to the bridge and down the canal path and back home at the end of a late shift. It was around nine thirty in the evening and the gloaming was spreading out from under the trees and I arrived home just as the odd blackbird gave their last warning trill as I walked up to the house to be greeted by Pakka on the stairs.

We had a quiet ‘passion’; she head butting my head with a crack and collapsing onto her side in ecstasy. Standing again and beginning to purr as I rubbed at the base of her tail, twisting around to rub her nose and face against mine. Then rolling over and pushing her head hard against my glasses so that my nose felt bruised and a large smudge of Pakka-ness was left across the lenses. Another collapse onto her side and then the tale-telling flicker of her tail just before she swiped at my hand, rolled over and pulled it into her front paws, ears back, mouth open and back legs going in for the rabbit-kill – kicking at the base of my hand… With a little encouragement and only a little loss of blood I persuaded my friend to let go, and she bounded up the stairs, only to stop at the top and stare back down at me.

I moved to return to the hall and she came down again, only to slip back up the stairs as I reached down to stroke her. It seems there was a body to be admired. Or a mouse for me to catch, a shrew perhaps who had managed to get under my tote boxes and was refusing to come out, or perhaps just a vole’s body, or maybe the ultimate prize of a small pile of feathers drifting across the carpet to be admired and then vacuumed into oblivion.

There was nothing, in the study, apart from some marks on the carpet as though something had been pulled across it erratically, the pile raised like the hairs on the back of a Rhodesian Ridge-Back dog and my neatly piled papers, ready for filing had somehow spread themselves over the floor, sliding into one another as though the result of some Teutonic plate movement. The landing was also surprisingly bereft of a body.

The bedroom though looked as though the house had been burgled. There was bird guano liberally spotted over my blanket, someone or something, had run over the bed and the burglar had obviously found my choice of earrings not to his liking. The wooden bowls in which I intermittently drop the day’s earrings at the end of the day, along with one or two small boxes, had been thrown to the floor, and their entrails were mixed together in a tangled web of silver chains, earring butterflies, dangling earrings and studs. There were a couple of feathers lying nonchalantly amongst the debris. I expressed my surprise that there was no body to be seen and asked, reasonably I thought, “Well, have you eaten it?” With a look of disgust she led me into my en-suit – a small room just off my bedroom. It contains, as you might expect of a small loo, a basin and a shower (it really is a very small room, certainly not big enough to swing the proverbial cat, should you want to. The room had been recently refurbished and amongst other things has a nice new floor.  This too was bereft of even a feather of a body.

The conversation continued thus: “Well, there isn’t a body in here either, what have you done with it? Why are we in here when there isn’t anything here, there isn’t a body anywhere….” It was then that she made me look into the shower cubicle – by standing on her back legs and resting her front paws on the glass. The first thing I noticed was a large pile of guano in the farthest corner of the shower against the wall…I then realised what Pakka was trying to get me to see.

A large starling was sitting quietly on the soap tray quietly studying us both. I caught Pakka and carried her out into the landing and shut the door and then wondered about how to catch this unwilling visitor. It was now almost dark and I didn’t want to have to spend the night chasing a bird around my bedroom. I closed the en-suit’s door and then picked up a towel to drop it over the bird’s head. It was then that I realised that this is usually done from behind (in falconry circles) and he had his back to the wall. Needs must as they say, so I stepped into the box and encouraged him to fly and he flew to the strip above the shower door. I was able then to reach up and poke his bottom with a finger, and he flew quietly to the window.There I dropped the towel over his head and carried him carefully against my chest down stairs, his head carefully covered, claws gripping my hand, heart hammering into my palm.

I went through to the French window and opened the door and considered my new friend. He had flown without any problem and his legs were all ok and though silent, (he hadn’t made a sound), I considered him fit enough to be released. So without more ado, I closed the window and dropped the towel from his head. I held him for a few moments in my hands, his head poking out from my fingers, just to allow him to acclimatise and get used to the night.

It was cooler, much darker and the time when diurnal creatures have gone to bed, and the nocturnal creatures were just starting to start their business. He looked around with interest. I wished him well, and opened my fingers so that he was just resting on my palms. Suddenly with a rustle he was in the air flying straight down the garden and with a cry of “’Ank – ooo!” he disappeared over the fence. With relief I returned indoors to slip off my new flexible shoes that I haven’t worn since…. to find Pakka curled in a ball at the base of my bed.

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