“Belinda lived in a little white house,
With a little black kitten and a little gray mouse,
And a little yellow dog and a little red wagon,
And a realio, trulio, little pet dragon.
Now the name of the little black kitten was Ink,
And the little gray mouse, she called her Blink,
And the little yellow dog was sharp as Mustard,
But the dragon was a coward, so she called him Custard.” (Ogden Nash)
I had a cat called Custard once, in the early and middle 1980s. Named after the Little Pet Dragon for his demeanour when he originally joined my household, it was not long before Custard was On A Mission From God.
I lived in a block of flats with a feral colony of inbred, deformed and louse-ridden pigeons, apparently supplied for his exclusive benefit – hunting them was cheaper than buying him a season ticket at the gym. God has appointed him avatar and sole deliverer of death to any and all pigeons in the world. He killed three or four a week. Note that this was in my young’n’foolish twenties, before I curfewed cats of a night, and there was a window partly open on a permanent basis for his convenience.
The window-thing came to an end when, one sunny Sunday morning when I was trying to sleep in, sheet down around my hips somewhere and sweaty upper-body completely exposed. Custard jumped up onto my bed – not normally a problem. He looked me deeply in the eyes and said (and cat-people will know I’m doing a translation here): “Nisaba, I love and adore you. I worship the ground you walk on, and the quite deformed paws you have with which you open tins. Here – accept this humble token of love that I have brought for you.”
And with that he dropped a bleeding and very badly injured pigeon, still alive, on my bare chest between my breasts.
From that moment on, the window was closed. He had to meow to be let in or out. Oh, and I couldn’t bring myself to break its neck – I had to dress in a really big hurry, put it under the wheel of my car, and back over it.
Then, of course, there are pigeon-stories from the same building, not the least of which was that one club-footed and obviously club-brained hen always used to lay her eggs in the same nesting-site year after year: the top of a gently sloping gutter downpipe. She never actually bothered building a nest there, so the eggs would come out of her cloaca, roll gracefully off the downpipe, and smash to smithereens around the base of it. Every breeding season she’d try over and over to start a family, resulting in anything from three to eleven (in a massive year) smashed eggs.
Sadly, she wasn’t the one who was deposited on my chest. Do the Darwin Awards have a category for such poor mothering as to increase the average IQ of the species by removing genetically Really Stupid Children before they have a chance to breed? That pigeon, one suspects, would have been a really prime candidate.