The Blog

Confronting Fear and Feathers

I have a fear of dead things. Not death, I can cope with that although I would be mighty pissed off if I got snuffed out prematurely. On arriving at the other place, I would be Mr Angry from Purgatory making such a fuss that St Peter would return me whence I came tired of my constant harping on his inhumanity to man, most particularly to me. I would be the first case of someone recovering post cremation appearing from my urn like the genie in Alladdin to scare the living bejesus out of Mrs Pickwick.

Dead things are the problem to me. Like spiders to big girls and daleks to small boys. The size of corpse does not matter. Whether it is a mouse or a decomposing sperm whale in my back garden, I have the same issue. Fear envelopes me.

Mrs Pickwick, a patient woman views my Achilles heel as tarnish to our otherwise perfect union. One day, exasperated by my girlish squeals of panic, she declared that after the production and delivery of our children, I needed to man up in the same way as she had womaned up to push out our bundles of wonderment. She has been steadfast in her application of this principle although will accept a support role if the corpse removal is not sufficiently speedy.

On a practical basis, there should be no issue confronting and disposing of a corpse. There can be memories associated with what is in front of you making the what might have been thought process more painful. In my case though, my reaction is the same were it a small mouse or national treasure stiff as a board in front of me. Aaaargh!

Last week, the whole house shook as I was checking emails. Aware that sickening corpse like thuds are not uncommon in the house at most times of day, I give them no reaction unless they are followed by silence or screams. In this case, the screams followed when Pickwick younger returned home from school to discover the perfect imprint of what looked like an albatross in flight on her window. And beneath the window was the corpse of what was in fact the mother of all pigeons.

I knew when I saw the majestic beast that I had a problem and what I had to do without seeing the expression of disappointment on Mrs Pickwick's face that she had not married Fergus the undertaker.

The location of death had been a common exit point in the past for a number of short sighted and temporarily startled members of the feathered community.

In cases like this, denial and planning are key. I closed the curtains to pretend it wasn't there and prayed for the arrival of Mr Fox. It was evident the following morning that my prayers had not been answered.

I find I can achieve my end on disposals by operating in reverse. A shovel can be applied to most corpses either directly or having the corpse behind you and reversing onto it. I once moved a half eaten rabbit by reversing onto it with the helpful directions of the younger Pickwicks "left a bit" "right a bit" "down a bit". Unfortunately they added "aaragh, it moved" at a critical point causing me to propel the corpse into the air and run to the back door in terror. It was to be the same approach on this corpse without the last bit.

I was stopped completing the same reversing technique some years ago at the same spot by a teenage German exchange student who had just arrived to spend a week with the Pickwicks and was taking tea on the patio. Her first experience of our household was seeing me reversing noisily with a shovel to scoop up a dead blackbird. With cool German efficiency, she took me out of my misery as an act of extreme human kindness whilst at the same time limiting Mrs Pickwick's exasperation at my inadequacies.

The pigeon had obviously died quickly given the commotion associated with its exit. I approached it gingerly with my eyes half shut pretending it was something else. However, even in the most creative role play, a dead pigeon like a member of the Conservative Cabinet can be recognised as nothing but itself even with the addition of a ginger wig and sling backs.

Fortunately, the pigeon was lying on the table meaning that it would be a relatively easy task to reverse onto it with a broom and push it into a container into which it would then fall. Aware that there is a margin of error in situations like this, I asked Mrs Pickwick for some assistance.She pulled on her rubber gloves with a sigh and advanced towards me bringing back memories of our Wedding night.

As I pushed the corpse to her across the table, she advanced to me with a black bin bag in the manner of classic Chuckle brothers "to me, to you" routine. The corpse fluttered its last into the bag and darkness fell onto it as Mrs Pickwick closed the bag over it.

Taking it to the bin, it was evident why events of the day had ended so badly for the noble beast. It was a porker - graceful in flight but only able to manoeuvre when it had lots of space and time available. I experience the same problem when I am trying to park the family hatchback in a crowded car park at speed. Inevitably, Mrs Pickwick replaces me at the wheel to protect the paintwork and re-stabilise our marriage.

When it comes to corpse removal, behind every weak man, there is a strong woman often with a pair of marigold gloves. And where the corpse is sizeable, the spirit of Barry and Paul Chuckle will see us through. I cherish this fact should it ever become too much for me with Mrs Pickwick's mother.