Thursday, 12 June 2014

Petrifying swans


I've sort of been a bit side-tracked when it comes to responding to comments for the last couple of days, and now I have left them so late that I think they have gone off the boil - that's not to say I haven't read them, mind you, and it's not to say I haven't been grateful for them.

I have been dashing about handling and appraising expensive bits of marble, and five minutes of last evening were spent being interviewed by a film crew, so I arrived home rather tired and emotional. I staggered to the keyboard as soon as I heard that Harry Potter's mother has given a million quid to the British contingent of Scottish tribes - hence last night's brief post - then collapsed in a heap before my butler carried me upstairs to bed.

Today I am heading into deepest Gloucestershire to look at another lump of marble, and I will try and resist stopping off at the 100 or so antique shops which line the main street of Prince Charles's home town - I haven't got any spare cash to spend on any of that.

I decided to take a look at my client's petrifying spring yesterday, and this involved walking across a swathe of grass large enough to host the World Cup, right next to a lake which is large enough to float a battleship.

About 100 yards in, I spotted a couple of swans with a handful of cygnets. More importantly, they spotted me as well. The male began to puff itself up and swagger toward me.

I know it is a myth that swans can break your arm with a wing-beat - the bones in their wings are about three times thinner than the bones in your arm - but a swan attack is very disconcerting nevertheless. I turned around and went back to the house.

What a coward I am. The thing is that I hate unpleasantness, and I know that a swan will not give up until either you or it lie dead, bleeding or both. I also know that it is illegal - and probably immoral - to even defend yourself effectively against a swan. You have to have written permission from the Queen to do that, and I didn't have enough time to receive it yesterday, let alone apply for it.

The worst swan attack I ever endured was when I had hired a small boat for a 'pleasure' trip on the river Avon. I went around a wide bend and straight into the territory of a nesting swan. I rowed as fast as I could past the beast's domain, but not as fast as its surging, face-height attacks. The worst thing about it was that I knew I would have to make the return journey in an hour or so, unless I abandoned the boat and took a bus home.

It turns out that this petrifying spring is, in fact, the source of a pretty large river that flows through this part of the country - it actually runs through or past IFORD MANOR (the Hattats are probably too busy entertaining Australian tourists to read this right now).

I'm waiting until the adult swans are too busy scaring off their own children before I go back for another look.

35 comments:

  1. Always give those with royal immunity a wide berth; at least it's no longer an act of treason.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sound advice, Em. That's going to be my excuse for cowardice in the future.

      Delete
  2. I was attacked by a Swan when I was small.... it was terrifying, rather than petrifying.

    ReplyDelete
  3. You turned your back on free meat ?
    Nothing like a bit of pot roasted swan washed down with a glass or three of claret.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And everyone at the table gets a bit of neck!

      Delete
    2. I ate swan for Christmas a few years ago - it's almost fishy from how they filter out the silt of the river bed.

      Delete
    3. The Danes specialise in Neck of Giraffe - a little goes a long way.

      Delete
  4. You arrived home "tired and emotional". The mind boggles.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Why? I thought that was pretty clear.

      Delete
    2. Not to me, but then I would be awkward wouldn't I.

      Delete
    3. You have just admitted that you are 'tired and emotional' on your blog just now - it's Private Eye speak for pissed, isn't it?

      Delete
    4. I haven't come across it before. Too subtle for me.

      Delete
    5. It's only been going for about 50 years. It must have escaped your attention.

      Delete
  5. I couldn't help but thing about the scene inthe Wodehouse novel where Bertie Wooster got treed by an angry swan. lol!

    ReplyDelete
  6. My children and I witnessed a swan attack when they were quite little. We warned the teenagers not to launch their canoe near the pond because of the swan nest. The one kid was "beaten: by the swan into his ribs over and over. We all watched in horror. A few days later the same boy was serving us icecream in a shop and was a bit red in the face when the kids squealed "there's the guy that was beaten by the swan"

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, it's undignified - even if you win.

      Delete
  7. My goodness, how have I lived to such an advanced age without knowing about swan attacks? A new hazard in this dangerous world!

    ReplyDelete
  8. I admit it - I am scared of swans.
    Film crew? Does this mean I might at last learn your real identity from a snippet on TV or something?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm scared of anything which is more aggressive than me.

      You must be the only one here not to know my real identity - I'm Johnny Depp. Didn't you know, Weave?

      Delete
  9. Johnny Depp is a midget, so this can only be a case of mistaken identity. Be honest: you are The Hoff!
    It is OK and understandable and forgiven that you were too exhausted to answer our fascinating comments (we talked among each other instead).
    Swans are nice seen from far away. I don't like their hissing - though I've never been attacked. By a swan.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "The Hoff"? Not Hasselhoff, who is so VERY popular with the Germans? My husband calls him "the Hassler".

      Delete
    2. Oh Iris...
      I liked your Leda, Tom.

      Delete
  10. I don't think I could resist a hundred antique shops! Just think of all the treasures you might have missed....Mr. Depp.


    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I would pretend that I send my agent out to look at all those antiques, but then I remembered that I am someone else's agent who does just that.

      Delete
  11. I was waiting for someone to mention Leda

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. She is fresh in my mind, Sarah - I've just finished restoring a marble sculpture of her - just after she had finished with the swan.

      Delete
    2. On paintings or sculptures Leda always looks happy - in poems like Yeats' it is a different thing. And Rilke: ambiguous.

      Delete
    3. Yes, my latest Leda had a smile on her face - unlike the expression I pull when I am raped by a swan.

      Delete
  12. Zeus has a lot (of offspring) to answer for.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So would I if I could shape-shift like that.

      Delete