Look closely at this picture because it’s far more than it seems. Look between the silver metal cylinders on the roof that vent all that nice warm air from the central heating boiler and you will see what looks like the contents of the vacuum cleaner bag but is actually Scrufty the baby herring gull.
Now, I know herring gulls get a bad press; and yes they are predators, but then so are hawks and owls and we all go ‘Aaah’ over them, don’t we? And I watch Scrufty from my bedroom window each day, mainly because I empathise with his mum, who keeps him fed and clean, and then when she’s had enough, hops to the next chimney pot down so she can watch over him while getting some peace. And, admit it, who doesn’t relate to that?
I first spotted the seagull nest in 2020 when the world went quiet and we were all locked down and a fledgling fell out and landed on the road. I stood guard over it and stopped traffic. (Yeah, I know, I’m a softy) and mum swooped down, collected him/her and gave them the telling off of their lives.
And now, they’re as much a part of the rhythm of the year as the swallows who nest under the eaves of the house down the road. Okay, no one is going to call Scrufty a beautiful bird, but with any luck, he’ll have an easier time than Jonathan Livingstone Seagull last year, who refused to fly. His poor mum tried everything, but rather than soaring free, he’d plummet to the roof and sit squawking plaintively.
I’ve had moments like that with my own kids, but Scrufty is spreading his wings and looking thoughtfully at the sky as he gets ready to soar, and that sums up how I’m feeling as my eighteenth book is published. It’s called Endings and Beginnings and it’s in the Windy Bay series; which had a rough start. That’s pretty much a metaphor for me, so can I wish you all Happy Beginnings?