The Morrighan

Saturday morning in my armchair, still in pyjamas, about eight, I’m deep into the Guardian rejoicing with Jeremy at the Oldham by-election. Beside me, a half-drunk cup of Earl Grey adds comfort to the tranquillity, the mantel clock’s ticking heartbeat, and though the high wind is bending trees at the end of the garden, there’s only a slight whooshing through the double glazing. I turn a page, folding it to how I like it. Perfect is the world. Then … I hear the cat flap, and … and … I do not hear Wilfred’s usual strident announcements that he has entered his domain. It’s quiet, too quiet, I look up, asking: ‘Wilfred?’ hoping against hope that … a second later the gates of hell are opened and before the bounding brown Wilfred flies a big black bird into the living room, as black as when the Morrighan became a raven, shedding feathers, frantically careening into the ceiling and walls away from Wilfred’s tooth and claw. I go into nervous overdrive, heart rate zooming, hating Wilfred for his ‘cruelty’, petrified that the thing will destroy the living-room and sure enough it heads for the patio windows and my fragile, beautiful orchids, three levels of them on glass racks. (A Celtic goddess, the Morrighan decided who lived or died in battle.) The size of it! Black as night it cowers in a corner trembling, face-to-face with the murderous Wilfred. With human cruelty I throw the cat from the room and he skulks in his own corner of the hallway, as if he is now the prey. I’m shaking, and without thinking much, run for a pail, dash back, drop it over the Morrighan, dash outside for some cardboard, dash for the keys to the patio windows locked closed for the winter, slide the cardboard under the pail, take the whole arrangement to where the trees are thrashing in the wind and let the poor thing flurry off into the generous undergrowth that the neighbour and I leave for hedgehogs and the like. Now, pulse abating, I lock Wilfred in to give the bird more time; I am hoping it can fly to safety. Back to the living-room and its mess of feathers, knocked-over orchid pots, thrust-aside furniture. I’m so upset that I make a second cuppa, return to the armchair, to the gentle tick-tock, to the soft sound of the wind, to my newspaper, to that evilly interrupted solitude, amidst the debris of nature’s battlefield.

 

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Who came off best?

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