Alex James: Bright as a button, beak like a dagger

Rural Notebook

Share
Related Topics

On my way to the coffee machine this morning, there was a rook on the landing. Quite a young one: bright as a button. Seeing the thing in the house, it struck me how different wild animals are from farm or domesticated ones.

I suppose unless you dress up as a tree or hide in a hedge, the opportunity to get a good look at these country cousins close up doesn't come along that often. If they don't scarper when they see you, they're not wild. The natural thing is always so much sleeker, and slightly smaller than the cultivated one: like an actress, all poise, vivacity and drama.

One or two rooks make their way into the house every summer. They come down the flues. I bought some rook guards for the chimney pots but it wasn't worth hiring a cherry picker lift just to fit them. When I eventually got one in to fix a couple of roof panels that blew off one of the sheds last winter, we had so much fun wheeling it around the farm and looking at everything from above that I forgot all about the rook guards.

The cats aren't scared of much, but they were policing the rook situation very gingerly, with the well-rehearsed pincer movement they use on the rabbits. The rook was clearly looking for a way out, but wasn't terribly scared of the cats either, beak like a dagger. It even made me cry out loud as it swept past me, wings whirring for another courageous charge at the skylight.

It was surprising how much drama there was. A palpable tension. I had to go and get my coffee to calm down and think about it. I opened a window and when I came back the rook had found its way out and the cats had trotted off. Drama over, but something quite glamorous, quite remarkable, had disappeared with it.

Summer's last peach

So many apples in the orchard, but not a single plum this year. And on the peach tree, which is in better shape than ever, only three peaches. I've been monitoring them carefully. One was full of earwigs. I gave oneto my god-daughter and the third will be ready exactly as you read this.

The last peach is the exact moment of high summer, so if it's raining right now it's downhill from here, I'm sorry to say.

Lopping the limes

Time to cut the hedges. It's been a while since they had a haircut. The last man to do it was mad. He lopped off half the lime trees in the hedge. Never seen a single lime on any of them since.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SQL Developer - Permanent - London - Up to £50k

£45000 - £50000 Per Annum 23 days holiday plus Pension scheme: Clearwater Peop...

IT Technician (1st/2nd line support) - Leatherhead, Surrey

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Technician (1st/2nd line support)...

Primary Teacher EYFS, KS1 and KS2

£85 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Preston: Randstad Education are urgentl...

KS1 and KS2 Primary NQT Job in Lancaster Area

£85 - £110 per day: Randstad Education Preston: Randstad Education is urgently...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

We need to talk about homophobia in the police

George Gillett
 

i Editor's letter: Summer holidays are here... so what to do with the children?

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn