When Dean phoned Wendy, for a Buddy Up creative chat, she shared with him a true and moving story, about a pigeon she raised.
THE BALLAD OF TINKERBELLE BIBBLES
He was on the side of the road, this very young pigeon, wandering round
and round. I thought he’s going to get hit, I couldn’t see the mother
so I brought him home. I put him in an old guinea pig hutch in my shed
and fed him with the seeds I feed to the birds. That was in July and he flew off
towards the end of November. He grew so quickly – I put him on the grass
but with the cage over the top. Then I let him wander around the garden
but he wouldn’t leave. Every morning, about half seven, he’d tap at my patio door
I’d slide it back and he would hop straight in, fly up on my shoulder.
He’d put his beak into my tea cup and blow bubbles. There he goes
bibbling away and I thought that’s what I’ll call him, Mr Bibbles.
First name, Tinkerbelle, because he was such a little tinker and I wasn’t sure
if he was male or female. I used to call him my little blue-eyed boy but
I didn’t know a pigeon’s eyes changed colour! When he was three months old
they went green and that white collar grew around his neck.
He’d never go on the bird table so I had a separate place for him to eat
outside the patio door but if I couldn’t find him in the garden
I’d rattle some peas in a plastic tub and he’d come flying down
straight onto my arm. And if he wanted my attention, he found these batteries
on the work top and he’d pick them up and drop them. He loved the rain –
he’d waddle up the path and put one wing up in the air like he was having shower.
He’d perch on the side of the sofa and I’d stretch my arm round him
to stroke his head. When he got older, he’d find a nearby branch and edge along
towards another pigeon. He’d put his wing out to stretch around the other bird
who’d look at him as if to say, ‘What the hell are you doing?’
At first I wanted to keep him but that’s not fair. He’s a wild bird, I knew
he’d go when he was ready. The dogs were fine – the little un, Taser,
got a bit snappy when Bibby was very young but my lovely whippet Meg
let him hop all over her. If anyone else tried to get close, he’d be gone.
I always had to wear the same flowery tee-shirt – pink and black it was,
with blue and green and black leggings. If I changed my clothes
he wouldn’t come near. When he flew off, I’d have to wash them
and they’d be out on the line and back on again before he came home.
At first he flew up into that tree where he could see me and I could see him.
He’d be away for two or three hours, then longer and longer
between each return flight. He’d still come back sometimes, land
on the bird table and let me stroke him, right up until the day he went.
Sometimes when pigeons take off in the garden, there’s one that flies down
and walks right up to my patio door. Do you reckon that’s Tinkerbelle?
But as soon as I’m halfway across the room, he flies away. There’s a pigeon
out there now on the shed roof. I’d love to think that’s my Mr Bibbles.