corders in the hague

It's like having the Corders round for dinner - except the kids don't smash stuff and Mike doesn't drink all your booze. And when you're bored you can get rid of us with a mouse click rather than having to start tidying up the house.

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Location: The Hague, Netherlands

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Pigeon Detective

It was one of those moments that makes you proud to be a parent. Akin to a baby's first smile, or faltering first steps, the first full night's sleep.
Yes, today Dingo killed her first bird.
And like so many of those other child-rearing achievements, I missed this one too.
Fortunately for me, Dingo had clearly taken a while killing the bird and had achieved it only after apparently bringing the unfortunate prey into the house and shaking loose two pillows worth of plumage. So there was still plenty to see.
Let's be honest here, if I'm going to apply the baby's first steps analogy this was more like stumbling around the room grabbing chairs, tables and parents' hands for balance. 
The bird in question was a clinically obese wood pigeon that waddled around our back garden in the manner of a Midwestern American in a shopping mall. I'm surprised I'd never seen it wearing ill-fitting leggings and  munching a donut with a bucket of Coke tucked under its wing. I'm pretty sure it smoked. It treated the garden like its own personal convenience store - picking up scraps the girls dropped or threw from the table and pecking whatever it is that birds peck off the floor all the time. It was onto a good thing, or so it thought. 
The point I'm trying to make is that this was not a tough bird to catch. 
Whenever it reluctantly flapped away because somebody had entered the yard, the fence would sway under its weight as it landed and mopped its brow from the exertion.
Nevertheless, Dingo still had to make her move and cross a key psychological barrier - from half-hearted harrier to successful hunter.
She's been practicing stalking birds for months as I walk her along the canal near our house but has always seemed content with scaring the ducks and coots into the water rather than actually trying to snack on one of them.
So I was more than a little surprised to come downstairs around lunchtime today to find the dining room and kitchen floor all but invisible under a carpet of feathers and Dingo standing outside, hunched over more feathers and looking guilty.
As I went outside, she immediately went and lay on her back underneath the barbie - the sign that she'd done something more horrendous than her usual trick of creating circular patches of scorched earth in our lawn with her agent orange piss.
That was when I saw the pigeon, one eye open, looking up at me with an expression that mixed surprise with disappointment. Although the eye I could see was open there was no question the thing was dead. Something - and now I noticed Dingo had flecks of blood around her snout - had gnawed off enough of the bird's back that I could see into its ribcage.
The back garden was covered in even more feathers than the house. Who knew a bird had so many? 
For some reason, I didn't want the girls discovering their beloved dog's crime so I started clearing up the mess. I picked up the bird in a plastic bag and set about scraping up the scattered feathers. After a good 30 seconds of that I decided it was a waste of time and a possible bird flu risk, so there was only one thing for it. Reach for the vacuum cleaner. An extension cable was all I needed to get the thing to the end of the garden and inside two minutes the scene of the crime was pristine clean. I even managed to hoover up some dead leaves and blossom from under the barbie. I'd forgotten the joys of the Australian leaf blower, but this came close. 
This evening, Dingo still seemed to be picking feathers out of her teeth but displayed no sign of blood lust or any kind of illness one might contract from consuming the uncooked meat of aerial vermin so I think we can sweep the whole incident under the carpet - along with the few feathers that evaded my vacuum cleaner.

Saturday, May 03, 2008


I was just sitting down for a last news check before going to bed and i saw an interesting little brief which I translate below. 
First a bit of background. May 4 is the day the Dutch commemorate their war dead with two minutes of silence, laying of wreaths etc. Staphorst and Genemuiden are villages full of crazies who adhere extremely closely to certain Biblical strictures. 
These people are Calvinists with a fat red line under the capital C. They're known as black stocking villages because of the sober dress code and they take their Sunday-as-day-of-rest VERY seriously. They don't so much as hang out the washing and for some reason nor do they drive cars on the Sabbath (I just checked Genesis and God also didn't drive a car on the seventh day).
So anyway, here's the story in all its brief glory:
"Strict Christian municipalities such as Staphorst and Genemuiden have held their commemoration services this (Saturday) evening. So as not to disturb their Sunday peace, the villagers did not want to hold two minutes silence on May 4. "
You've got to love a religious group that believes two minutes of silence will disturb their peace.