Wednesday, December 08, 2004

The Birds

Bear with me. This is an EU story.

Currently, my garden is taking on the aspect of a scene from the famous Hitchcock film. Each time I venture out of doors, I see the ridges of the houses opposite, the TV aerials, the telephone wires… lined with birds, all staring at me accusingly, silently mouthing (chirping? ... silently? er ... you get the point) the words, "where the ... are they?".

It all started out so innocently. We used to buy those fat balls for the birds, to hang on the trees for the tits and others to feed on. But then we discovered that some of the ground-feeding birds loved them as well, and would devour two or three balls in less then an hour when we put them on the lawn.

That got a bit expensive, so I started making them myself ... one of those Saturday chores. The recipe is a pound of lard melted, to which is added bread crumbs, mixed seed and chopped-up peanuts. And boy, do the birds love them.

But, no longer. All of a sudden, there is no lard to be had. Mrs EU Referendum has been scouring the shops and supermarkets within a ten-mile radius and… nada. It is scarcer than hens' teeth or rocking horse sh*t.

The reason we are told is EU enlargement. Since Poland joined, from which we are told, much of the lard comes, the multi-nationals have moved in big-time and have taken over a huge slug of the pig producing industry.

The bulk of pig production now, instead of being home-slaughtered, is now being exported live to the lucrative EU market, and there is a shortage of pigs for home-production in Poland. And, no pigs ... no lard. It is as simple as that.

Thus, as the birds start tapping at the windows, their accusing stares reminding me of my failures – not that I need any reminding of those – I sit here tapping at my keyboard, contemplating yet another benefit of EU membership. Will someone please tell the birds?

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