Tuesday, June 21, 2005

And Quoth The Raven, Nevermore...

You could say it all started with the pigeons. I should have known they were an omen of what was in store when, on my first night in my new home, they came swooping down over my head like a Hitchcockian scene from The Birds at 3 AM, just as I'm slipping into blissful REM sleep. As I leap out of bed, simultaneously screaming, diving to the floor and searching for the light switch, sure that I'm being attacked by a swarm of rabid bats, my husband Steve calmly flips up his sleep mask and informs me that he "forgot to mention the pigeon problem". Hmmm, I see. The "pigeon problem." It seems we have a not-so quiet little (no, make that super-sized) family of pigeons roosting on the roof above our bed, conveniently located under the eaves, the only place where it will fit given the room's odd turn-off-the century construction. And while no, they are not inside, as some of you have asked in horror, they may as well be.

Now if the pigeons could quietly sit there and perhaps gently lull us to sleep with their hypnotic cooing, we could all reside together in peace. Unfortunately, it doesn't work like that in the world of The Reluctant Anglophile. You see, the pigeons like to scratch roof tiles, perhaps to sharpen their nice pigeon claws. They also like to bat their powerful pigeon wings against the tiles with an alarming frequency that brooks no question that some illicit pigeon activity is going on up there. They like to swoop in... and swoop out...and swoop in again. And they really, really, like to do all of this between the hours of 3-6 AM.

So after four nights of no sleep, two trips to HomeBase and several scary hours spent out on the steeply pitched roof, my handy-husband Steve has managed to construct an elaborate homemade PDS (Pigeon Defense System) and we are on top of the world, true victors in the Darwinian struggle of man against pigeon. If only that were the case. Instead, the pigeon problem only got worse--the batting of the wings intensifying to a manic pace that was rapidly descending both of us into a state of sleep deprivation and madness that would surely result in either Steve or I being deported after the securing of an illegal firearm.

So what's any self-respecting New Yorker to do but fire off an irate email at 5 in the morning to the landlord, demanding that the pigeon problem be fixed IMMEDIATELY or further rent monies will be reduced accordingly. Impressively, especially for Britain (a country where merely having someone flip a switch to connect your phone can take weeks), I am told that pest control will be here at 8AM the next day. Before I've fully basked in the warm glow of the results achieved by my New York-style motivational methods, the man who was to finally provide us with some sleep relief shows up... in a three-piece suit...with no tools.

Hmmm. Turns out he is sort of an "analyst" in the pest control world and doesn't actually "fix" things, and yes, we do indeed have pigeons roosting on our roof. And in fact, the reason things seemed to have gotten worse lately is that two were "stuck" in our Pigeon Defense System. Mind you, I hear this gruesome news at 8 in the morning before I've had my coffee. But PETA-philes can relax, because the pigeons were indeed alive and kicking (does anything kill these things?) and they were set free. The pigeon analyst promised he would "file a report" as soon as possible on the state of our situation and assuredly could have someone out in at least a week or so to construct a professional PDS.

Well...it's been a week and we've since purchased two fans, a white noise machine and a boom box that plays a loop of relaxational music, and we're still waiting...There was one moment of brief optimism when the buzzer rang unexpectedly at 5:30 one night and the vistor identified himself as being here "about the pigeon situation". I raced down three flights of stairs, excitedly leading him up to the bedroom and roof entry, waiting impatiently for his return, upon whence he informs me that yes, we do indeed have pigeons roosting on our roof. And as soon as he files a report...


Blogger John said...

Coool, I love blogs! I have many stuck in MyYahoo via RSS feeds. I will be adding you guys shortly.

I looks like the Chicago Machine bureaucracy has followed you over the pond. Good luck with the flying rats! Perhaps you're going about it the wrong way...invite them in for drinks (or tea as I assume they're British pigeons) Maybe they have a wonderfully dry English wit you will grow to love...or not

3:13 PM  
Blogger John said...

Also, can you change your syndication setting for an RSS feed so I can add you to my feed reader? It's under "site feed" check it all out here:

3:16 PM  
Blogger BW said...

I love your stories! Continue to keep us up-to-date about your London life....

9:11 PM  
Anonymous doug g. said...

You know that these must have been New York pigeons--they are jet-lagged and have not adjusted yet to London time. Our pigeons in Brooklyn usually wait until 6 or 7 a.m. before they start cooing and waking us up.

What you need is an owl. Not a plastic owl, which the pigeons will get used to in a week. But a real live owl. Owls are supposedly the pigeons only natural enemy.

I've also heard of something called Avitrol, which you slip into some food that the pigeons will eat. It doesn't kill them, but disorients them. They will fly away, forget where they were living, and not return.

Failing that, a BB gun...

12:51 AM  

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