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The birds and the bees

As a prepubescent (does that mean before I was old enough to be served in a pub?), the concept of sex education was a little bit avant-garde in my neck of the woods. However, my school decided to introduce this, then, controversial subject and sent home a note asking for parental permission for me to watch, with the rest of the class, a TV programme called Living and Growing. You’ll probably be relieved to be spared the details as I can remember nothing at all about that programme, other than I missed the last episode, ie the one that actually had some facts of life in it. Maybe.

What’s this got to do with Delhi? Er, nothing yet. I seem to have gone off the point, but I’m good pals with the Ed and, unlike some of the other columnists on this site, have no fear of the wielding of the red pen. [Get back to the subject, or else – The Ed]

What I had wanted to write about this time was, believe it or not – birds and bees. I just got a bit worried that you might think I was going to give you a “facts of life” type of thing.

Birds – well, I’m not exactly a “twitcher” but I do take a passing interest and like to know what it is I’m seeing, or not, as the case may be. Bird watching, to me, is a bit of a misnomer as while even I can tell the difference between a vulture and a kingfisher – yes, really! – I’ve found that often the best way of identifying the birds around is by being a bird listener. If there are any experts reading this, feel free to write in and add some gravitas to this. I’m just telling it like it is.

Already, I can recognise a green parakeet a mile off by its aggressive screechy/squeaky racket (is there a technical term for this?). It reminds me of another time, where – if I may borrow vocabulary from the Father Ted series – we had a Fup Off bird in our garden. I have no idea what this bird looked like, although I have reason to believe that a colleague paid it a small sum to sit in our garden all day, every day, squawking: “Fup off, fup off, fup off.” I think the Aussies are familiar with this bird so maybe someone will enlighten me. (To the person who paid the bird – I haven’t forgotten, Neill, so watch your back.)

So that’s about all on birds for now. Maybe more in a future column. Let’s get on to bees.

Bees are those buzzy things that can sting you sometimes. I don’t know much about bees (Atoz – I think your reputation as the columnist who does the least research here is being seriously challenged!). Some bees make honey, some bees buzz around, and some bloody BIG bees will build nests (beehives?) on your backside if you’re not careful. Not your backside, you understand, but perhaps on the backside of your house if you live in Delhi. (Read my first column if you’re completely confused.) A new Indian friend, Mr N, who knows of Mr Krishnan’s foible (hope I didn’t put him off by telling him about my backside problems) subsequently took the piss by emailing me to say that beehives on the backside might be quite painful. Well, maybe they would be. But I couldn’t possibly comment.

Mr Krishnan’s advice was to do nothing. After all, if I didn’t bother the bees, then they wouldn’t bother me. This was vehemently disagreed with by most others I asked and thus the Pest Control people were called in to remove the nest which, by then, had grown to quite an alarming size. About the same size as me. Er, do you find me alarming?

You can imagine the details. So there you go, that’s the bit about bees.

Just a final thought before I go: prior to watching the first episode of Living and Growing, I was given a copy of a little booklet, purchased with considerable pomp and ceremony, from the chemist’s. It was called The Facts of Life. I was ordered to read it and then to ask if there was anything I had not understood. I dutifully read the horribly boring thing from cover to cover and when at least one question was demanded of me, the best I could come up with was: “What’s a fruit fly?”

Till next time. (If I haven’t been sacked by then.)


PS: If anyone out there thinks that they can guess who “Stravaig” is, I’d like to refer you to Shaggy’s latest hit: “It Wasn’t Me”. Great lyrics!

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