The Robin hopped right up to the French doors yesterday morning. "Traitor!" I told him.
Where was he, I asked, when we needed him? Where was he hiding on Saturday afternoon
when Mr B and I pulled the sofa round to face out into the back garden and, Us Pad at the ready, prepared to record all the birds frequenting our garden over the course of an hour. Yes, indeed, it was the RSPB's Great British Garden Bird Watch. Like the Bake
Off but without cakes or pastries and not a soggy bottom in sight.
I swear he blushed, that Robin. Or perhaps it was just the reflection from his beautiful red breast.
To talk about the birds "frequenting" our garden was something of a misnomer. We counted three pigeons, two sparrows and two gulls. Of the common variety. It was truly a pitiful tally. The only positive I could come up with was that it was an extremely
pleasant hour, sitting there on the sofa in quiet companionship with Mr B. Every so often he would say something like: "Is that a vulture circling overhead?" Or, his favourite: "I could swear that was a puffin." I am not sure his heart was completely in the
exercise - but I know he would have brightened up (like the Robin's breast) had any of our "regulars" deigned to turn up.
No, not even the ever-faithful Mr and Mrs Blackbird arrived. Not a single tit, blue,
great, coal or long-tailed. Not even the bovver boy starlings or the strutting magpies. Our garden, usually a haven for bird life, was deserted. I suspect that they realised there were richer pickings elsewhere. Neighbours who had spent hours making bird seed
cake out of molten lard, tasty meal worms and other Disgusting Stuff. Me, I just popped into the Pet Shop and bought a coconut shell filled with Something Appetising To A Bird and some suet logs. Obviously I did not lay on enough of a feast to attract guests
to my (bird) table. I feel like the fella in the Bible who set out a table groaning with goodies, only to find that no body came. He, of course, went out into the highways and byways to invite the poor and the hungry to his table. It's not so easy with birds,
you know. They are not like sheep, they will not be herded. You just have to wait and hope they will come...
Mr B said I could always cheat and submit a return more in keeping with our usual gathering of the
Feathered Ones. But, no, I was brought up by parents who considered cheating on a par with theft and murder, and only slightly less heinous than treating another person unkindly. There was no way I could go against such an upbringing.
There was no cheating, either, at the Fish 'n' Chip 'n' Quiz Supper yesterday evening. Apparently the free WiFi had been turned off for the evening to prevent any possible Smartphone Shenanigans. We'd invited avid quizzers Jim and
Delia to join us and we were all in high spirits as we drove to Littlehampton and the Fish Factory. We usually do pretty well at Quiz Nights, we reminded ourselves.
All started well. The first round was all
about American Presidents. As in, a biscuit you can dunk in your tea? Answer: Lincoln. (Garibaldi was a bit of a temptation but we fortunately stayed grounded in the US of A.) We scored a creditable nine out of ten, only failing on question eight, a cartoon
cat. (Answer: Garfield. " Of course, of course!" we shrieked, crossly.)
The second round was almost as good. We weren't too sure when they announced that the theme was "celebrities" but we did pretty well,
even though we couldn't remember Katie Price's celebrity name. Was it Morgan? I wondered, though I knew very well it wasn't. Well, Jordan isn't a million miles away. By the time the fish and chips were served we were in fourth place and feeling confident.
After which everything went horribly wrong. The next category was "Sit Coms" which didn't bode well. Now, if it had only been Cookery shows or programmes about Antiques, we might have stood a chance. We scored a pitiful
four and a half and that was only because the team on the table next to ours, who were marking our answers, took pity on us and gave us half a point for "Brendan" as the star of Mrs Brown's Boys. Even though we failed to remember his surname. Was if O'Donnell?
I had asked my fellow team members. I had mixed him up with Danny, he of the gospel songs. It wasn't my finest moment.
Things went from bad to worse in round four which was "Lyrics". Oh, glory be, it even
carried a double score. We managed just one answer - "Imagine" by John Lennon. A glorious two points out of twenty. We didn't even win a raffle prize, Mr B and me - though Delia and Jim made off with a bottle of the Sparkling Stuff.
But, here's the point - we took part and we had fun. Taking part is, indeed, what it is all about. At the Quiz Night, as for the RSPB Bird Watch. The Quiz Night raised £857 for Cancerwise - well done to my friend Emma who organised
it. We won't know the result of The Bird Watch till March but it's safe to say that over seven million birds will have been seen and recorded.
Just not in our garden.