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Mixed metaphor


When the Beatles sang “blackbird singing in the dead of night…” as a metaphor for the civil rights struggle, I’m guessing they had no idea how confusing that would be to Americans. Our blackbirds go graaaaaaak.

But, sonofabitch, it turns out the British blackbird is a whole ‘nother species — Turdus merula (stop laughing, you in the back!) — and it has a great song. A burbling, silly, happy, random thing. It sounds just like — if you’ll permit me a metaphor without any poetry in it at all — a bird version of the mechanical stylings of R2D2.

We have one in the garden. I don’t know if he really follows me around, or if his sound is so distinctive I’m just highly aware of him whenever he’s out there.

That’s him, at the peak of the roof. (Note the bottle cemented into the masonry; we still haven’t worked out what that means). I waited ages for him to fly away so I could get a picture of him taking off, but he out-waited me. There’s only so long I can stand with a camera pressed to my face.

How do I know it’s just the one? Our blackbird is a bit leucistic — his head is mostly white.

I’m sure that’s a metaphor for something, too.


Comment from scubafreak
Time: June 18, 2009, 8:07 pm

The Red-Winged Blackbirds were out in fine form today in Colorado Springs… I can’t say much for their vocal skills, but they ARE pretty to look at…

Comment from MCPO Airdale
Time: June 18, 2009, 8:19 pm

It will never replace the blue tit.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: June 18, 2009, 8:47 pm

Which can’t come CLOSE to the great tit.

Comment from Gromulin
Time: June 18, 2009, 11:01 pm

Here in Sacramento, we have Bushtits. So there.
I only know that because my wife is turning into Jane Hathaway.

Comment from Mrs. Peel
Time: June 18, 2009, 11:43 pm

I thought I read somewhere that when roofs were thatched, the thatchers would all sign and date a sheet of paper, which they tucked into a bottle in the thatch. Then when the roof was rethatched again, the new set of thatchers would find the bottle and add their signatures and the date and such. Could your bottle be similar?

Comment from scubafreak
Time: June 19, 2009, 12:33 am

Well, I’m SHOCKED!! SHOCKED I SAY, that noone lifted a finger on behalf of all the beautiful BOOBY’s in the world!


Comment from ATNorth
Time: June 19, 2009, 1:22 am

Have you noticed how incredibly easy it is to be more creative in England? I think it’s the fact that the only entertainment available is drinking. I lived there for two years and created about 60% of everything I’ve ever done in those years.

Comment from Andrea Harris
Time: June 19, 2009, 9:46 am

That Blackbird song was about the Civil Rights Movement? And all this time I thought it was just an early emo song. Eh, it’s never been one of my favorites.

Comment from Deborah
Time: June 19, 2009, 10:05 am

Singing Blackbirds! “Sing a song of sixpence a pocket full of rye, Four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie.”

And I love the story about thatchers leaving a bottle tucked into the thatch to record the dates of work.

Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: June 19, 2009, 2:14 pm

That’s very interesting, Mrs Peel! We have looked (and asked) around about this but yours is the first sensible suggestion we’ve heard.

Well, aside the one that it’s a local way of indicating a house where the inhabitants are drunks…

Comment from Mrs. Peel
Time: June 19, 2009, 5:57 pm

Sensible suggestions FTW!

Of course, I read that in a little kids’ book (one of the Indian in the Cupboard books by Lynne Reid Banks), so I don’t know if it’s actually true.

Comment from Mikey NTH
Time: June 21, 2009, 1:42 pm

Mrs. Peel’s suggestion sounds good. It could be a luck thing, also, like putting a piece of fir tree at the top of a building’s ironwork as it is built. Sort of like putting a coin at the base of a ship’s mainmast, or christianing the ship with champagne.

Comment from Ed Flinn
Time: June 23, 2009, 12:33 pm

One of the cousins of that blackbird is the American Robin, Turdus migratorius.

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