April 2018 – Shrublands Farm, North Repps
Hidden in the comfort of our metal gypsy wagon, I watch a pair of pheasants pick their way around the sympathetically camouflaged green painted toilets towards me. Stunningly marked, such creatures are better enjoyed thus – still wearing their feathers. It saddens me that this brace, these comrades without arms, are seen as sporting targets by those who seem to have lost touch with the idea of a level playing field. It saddens me to have to accept the guilt-edged suspicion that my enjoyment of wooded copses, stands of peace amongst industrialised fields, relies on the ritual sacrifice of these beautiful birds. Stand and stare at them one day – really look – the intricacy of their markings belies belief. Such beauty! And mankind in our civilised way simply sees a plaything – something which cannot hit back.
In penning the description “comrades without arms”, I had watched the pair walking and pecking gracefully with the odd flutter of feather as the breeze momentarily disturbed their balance and I wondered ” how do they manage without arms and hands”. It hit me with a smile of embarrassment that the birds, seeing humans, would wonder what we had done to offend God so greatly that He had taken away our wings. Maybe God is not a “sportsman” either…He keeps the playing field level.