Nick King's Blog

I've done some pretty cool things, but nothing's as cool as creating our family

#grumpydeafgrandad fed up with pigeons eating tulips he planted in lawn Asking if we know where he can get an air rifle! J looks alarmed!

My Dad lives in a sheltered housing development.  

We moved him there while my mother was still in hospital, intending it to be a suitable place for her to recuperate with him once she was well enough to come home.  Sadly, as I've explained elsewhere, they never had that opportunity. 

The development comprises a number of bungalows, very pleasantly situated around a central lawn, shared as a communal garden by the residents.


Grumpy Deaf Grandad, as we call my Dad, takes some considerable pride in the area of the communal garden outside of his own bungalow.  He has always been a keen gardener, the grounds of the home my parents shared until my mother's last illness were always pristinely kept.

It therefore came as no surprise one Sunday when Grandad came to dinner that he should start talking about the communal garden area.

"Those pigeons are eating my tulips!" He said, with some force.

Grandad has form for disliking pigeons, so we made sympathetic noises expecting a monologue about the evils of pigeon-kind and their doings.

"I've got a solution," Grandad continued.  "Do you need a licence for an air rifle?"

This made us sit up and take notice.  The look on J's face showed pure alarm.  

"You can't use an air rifle!" I said, much concerned.

I should explain at this point that there are a number of dangers associated with the thought of Grandad using an air rifle to shoot the pigeons eating the tulips on his lawn.  The lawn is central to all of the properties in the development, they all face onto it.  Therefore any shot that missed a pigeon would hit the next solid thing, being one of his neighbours bungalows.

The other residents of the development also often use the communal lawn.  They sometimes potter tending the areas of garden outside their own property, at other times they have been known to sit on the bench provided, enjoying the fresh air or even set up a table and chairs for afternoon tea.

Perhaps the most pertinent point is that Grumpy Deaf Grandad has an essential tremor.  His right hand has shaken with increasing intensity, providing him with a decreasing amount of control over it, for many years.  In more recent times this has spread more slightly to his left hand too. 

Consequently, the chances of his obtaining a clean, well aimed shot at any marauding pigeon were non existent.  

We told him so.

Grandad seemed completely unconcerned with the potential air rifle threat to the neighbours. "They're all elderly so they don't get out much!" He said.  "Not much chance of clipping one of them."

Oh, that was OK then.

As Grandad is 87 himself, his sweeping condemnation of the other residents, most of whom are younger than him, as 'elderly' seemed a bit rich.  

By this point I was mentally beginning to work out who I could approach for the name of a good homicide lawyer.  

"Anyway, all those old women have started knitting together, I thought I could shoot the pigeons then!"  J and I looked at one another as Grandad said this.  He was clearly losing it entirely now.

Further questioning confirmed that the other residents of the development (his fellow 'inmates' Grandad calls them) were setting up a regular new social event.  

At this time Grumpy Deaf Grandad was the only male resident.  His default setting when engaging with his neighbours being 'anti-social'.  He would therefore bemoan the fact that 'all those old women' wanted to engage him in their coffee morning, birthday parties, Christmas party or film shows.  Their tenacity knows no bounds however and they continue to try and engage him in whatever they are doing.

On this occasion they had decided to set up a 'Knitting and Natter' group, to be held a couple of afternoons a week in their common room.  They may as well have invited Grandad to a Black Mass.

"All those old women sitting and knitting.  It would be like Macbeth!" Grandad was clearly unimpressed with the offer.  Likening the ladies to the witches in Macbeth seemed a bit harsh, I told Grandad so.  

"You're right," he conceded, "they're not like the witches.  More like those women who used to sit and knit at the foot of the guillotine."  This made Grandad chuckle to himself.  Needless to say we didn't join in.

"Anyway, even if I did clip one of them with the air rifle, we might get some new inmates who aren't women who knit!"  

J was losing the will to live by this point.  He asked Grandad what he would do if he caught one of the pigeons knitting.  Luckily enough the Deaf bit of Grumpy Deaf Grandad came into play at that point.

"What?" Grandad barked.

I stepped in quickly, "J was suggesting we could lend you the children, your granddaughter would soon chase the pigeons away." I said, shooting J the most disapproving look I could muster.

The thought of having to look after the children, even for a short period, is beyond the pale for Grandad.  He grimaced.

"It's a straight choice, Grandad."  I said.  "The air rifle is vetoed.  So it's pigeons or children."

"I'll take the pigeons!" Grandad said grumpily.