Sunday, 26 February 2017

Crowbars - Episode 2

To follow on from my discovery of the nether world of crow bars in my quest for the derivation of said word, which suddenly became important around 4.27am on my most recent sleepless night, more has been revealed as I have delved deeper.

Apparently, crows have a patience threshold which when reached, can manifest itself in all sorts of strange and violent ways. It took quite a bit of research to find that on one occasion, crows had been observed, in their obvious impatience at not gaining access to their favourite watering hole, going about devising ways and means of getting in before opening time.

The tapping on the glass double doors wasn’t having the desired effect, neither was standing on the window sill doing the same thing. One bright spark started pecking at the door itself, right where the two door frames joined. Leaving the long queue waiting for the bar to open, more crows flew down from their perch on the telephone line above, wondering what their cranky mate was up to. Some squawking was observed as the pecking crow attempted to convey to the onlookers what he was trying to do.

Getting the gist of his plan, several flew off, quickly returning with sticks in their beaks. The intrepid pecker poked a stick in the slight gap between the doors and gave it a good jiggle left and right. A moaning ‘kaaaa’ from the now increasing number reflected their disappointment, and the pecker was observed supposedly giving more instructions to which several crows immediately responded.

As the research revealed, the observer, safely ensconced in the corner house opposite the pub, went to get his binoculars at that point, determined not to miss any detail in this unfolding drama. The unpredictable vagaries of crows have long been known, so there was no way he was leaving his house to get closer to the action in case his presence prompted an adverse reaction. I mean, Alfred Hitchcock can attest to that fact, so glaringly brought to our attention several decades ago, long before David Attenborough began educating and entertaining us with his extravaganzas of the natural world.

Sticks of all varieties arrived with the returning crows, but try as he may, what seemed like a good idea of poking the stick between the doors and pushing it this way and that, just wasn’t working. Not to be outdone, further instructions seemed to get the crows fired up. Three flew off, returning a few minutes later with what looked like a long piece of metal. It was difficult for the observer to determine exactly what it was, but it was definitely not a wooden stick.

The crowd had swelled by this time and was now becoming quite vocal, squawking encouragement and flapping about. Ramming the rod, or whatever it was in the gap between the doors, the four crows repeated what the one had done. Surely this had to work, but to no avail. 

The crowd went quiet. No one moved, then one long desperate ‘ka ka a kaaa’  from the instigator of this strange episode got their attention, galvanising them into action. Eight crows lined up along the rod, picked it up in their beaks, then pushed for all their worth. Another line came up behind them, adding to the effort. Not a single crow sat up above in disinterested silence. All were on the ground, squawking instructions, egging each other on, joining in the fray, pushing those in front.

Such a crescendo.

‘Come on guys, you can do it,’ yelled the observer from across the road.
And then it happened. Not a resounding wood splintering crack, but a…


The doors opened.

Not a sound. All was suddenly still. The observer remarked he assumed the crows were so shocked at achieving their goal they were stunned into silence. But seconds later came the celebration. Amid the strutting and ardent back flapping the crow whose brilliant idea had proved successful was surrounded and acclaimed for his ingenuity. And then, one by one, the crows entered the bar.

Later, when being interviewed about this strange phenomenon, the observer was asked what he thought spurred the crows on to complete this seemingly impossible task.

‘In my opinion,’ he said, ‘and far be it from me to claim to be an expert on the complexities of the crow psyche, but that determined crow, even after all that hard work and it looked like they were defeated, he piped up and somehow got them going again.’
‘So what do you reckon was going on?’ he was asked.
‘Well, at that point, it looked like he was rallying the troops for one last effort and I think he expressed what they were all feeling, and what I would have said if I’d been in their shoes.’
‘And what was that?’
‘I could murder for a drink.’

(Hence solving the origin of not one word, but two)

Friday, 24 February 2017


Dark, dingy places. Frequented by suspicious characters with beady eyes, dressed in black to blend in with their surroundings, always aloof. Patrons have been known to queue for hours in menacing groups, standing around idly while eyeing off unsuspecting passers-by going about their daily business. Others have been spotted tapping on the glass doors before opening time, becoming somewhat agitated and drawing attention to themselves as they demand to be let in. For some reason, crows have not availed themselves of the knowledge of the opening hours of their favourite drinking holes, so waste many hours out in the elements huddled together, sometimes in extremely inclement weather. From their vantage points they can survey the neighbourhood, stalk pedestrians if they’re so inclined, cause a bit of trouble while they wait out the boredom, and finally swoop in at just the right moment for happy hour.