Morpheus on… The Day Of The Rooks

Back in 1969, I resided in a small hotel in an unfashionable area of Bloomsbury, London. Unfashionable it might have been, but it was HANDY – being only a fifteen-minute walk (or twenty-minute STAGGER) from the West End.

This made it invaluable, since it meant one could get wasted in Ronnie Scott’s club – then get back home without the necessity of finding out whether a black-cab driver’s travel plans fitted in with YOURS.

Also, it was close to where I WORKED. Thus early every morning, I would pass a FASHIONABLE area of Bloomsbury known as Cartwright Gardens. This was a crescent of Georgian terraced houses, which faced a semi-circular park.

And in this park lived a parliament of rooks. However, they did not exactly LIVE there – they just used it as a crash-pad. By which I mean that in the daytime, they went off and did whatever rooks DO in the daytime (look for food, mostly – I would imagine) only returning at night to roost.

However, here (finally) is where it gets interesting: for no reason I am aware of (I am not David Attenborough) they chose a DIFFERENT resting place, somewhere in the park, every night – perhaps they sought a CLEAN tree.

Now in ’69, the number of cars owned by the residents of this road were about equal to the amount of space in front of the houses. But late arrivals – or guests – had no option other than to leave their vehicles on the PARK side of the road.

And here was where it got tricky. The thing was, there were a FEW places where there were GAPS in the park’s trees – but MOST of that side of the road was UNDER their spreading boughs.

Thus anyone leaving their car there overnight was unwittingly engaging in a game of Russian Roulette.

Because if you picked the spot under the tree that the rooks had arbitrarily decided to spend the night in – your vehicle would receive a day’s processed rook-food, from the afore-mentioned parliament.

And in this case, the collective noun was appropriate – because the rooks numbered some SIX HUNDRED AND FIFTY. And that’s a lot of poop.

So on this particular morning, it being Winter, the branches were BARE (as in the picture above) meaning the downwards trajectory of the rooks’ droppings were unobstructed by leaves.

And as I walked past, I saw the parliament were just waking up and beginning their day. But right underneath them – was a CAR.

Or rather, it HAD been.

To say the car had bird-poop on it would be a MASSIVE understatement. It would be better to describe the sight as a HUGE PILE OF BIRD POOP – with a car somewhere UNDERNEATH.

I mean, I could not have told you what MODEL the car was – let alone the COLOUR.

It is one of the sadnesses of my life that people were depending upon me to arrive at my place of work on time. If not, I would have been prepared to wait there ALL MORNING, if necessary – just to see the LOOK on the owner’s face as they came out of their house and surveyed the MESS that had once been their chariot.

Of course, it would be a MASSIVE coincidence if that person ended up reading this PIECE. But the laws of mathematical probability ensure that in each life – since MILLIONS of things happen to one – a FEW million-to-one coincidences WILL    occur (I have had several, during my fifty-nine years In This Place).

Therefore, if YOU WERE the unfortunate owner of that defecation-on-wheels in Cartwright Gardens, forty-three-odd years ago – PLEASE leave a message in the comments!


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