Sunday 6 June 2010

Bats in the belfry

For many years I have had bats in my belfry....the older I get I swear the bigger they become as they flit erratically inside my head.

On Saturday night (or rather during the early hours of Sunday morning) I was sitting writing some of my book, when something caught my eye at the bottom of the stairs. It seemed to come and go rapidly and was dark in colouration, or so it seemed when seen from the light shining from the dining room on to the bottom of the stairs. My immediate thought was that my imagination was getting the better of me – Biggles had been acting a might peculiar earlier on as if he could hear something going on outside (don’t you just hate it when cats and dogs suddenly raise their head and stare into nothing with ears twitching and eyes intent on something you cannot see, accompanied with a low guttural growl?) . Were my belfry bats crossing up the wires in my head as I looked up from my twilight world of fiction and into the bright light of reality? Nope, I could definitely see – and hear – wings, although not the usual delicate sound of feathers, but something more solid. However, my next thought was that maybe one of the cats had caught a roosting bird and, getting up to investigate, I began to mull over whether I would have to awaken the household to help catch it and put it in one of the specially made holding cages that are always prepared to receive a patient if the call is needed.

I had no idea where any of the cats were at that moment nor where Biggles was, as he had been up and down the stairs continuously for a few hours and I had lost track as to whether he was recumbent on the bed or in the sitting room. However, when I turned on the landing light I realised that the unintentional visitor was in fact not a bird at all, but a bat. And quite a largish size bat at that, not one of the usual smaller ones that we see at dusk flittering around the garden after insects. It must have come in through the landing or bathroom window and was clearly having trouble regaining its freedom. The landing window does not open very far and I did not want to risk making an almighty row at that time in the morning trying to force it to go any further. However, this in turn made it a hopeless task for the bat to negotiate and it kept flying back and forth down the corridor that leads to our bedroom, which – as Jon was asleep – was enveloped in complete darkness and then out passed me on to the stairwell and up into the rafters.

Eventually it veered off into the bathroom and I quickly slipped in behind it, turned on the light to see what I was doing and closed the door. I flung the bathroom window as far as open as it would go – which luckily was a darn sight more than the landing window – and stood stock still while the poor bat zoomed in and out of the shower cubicle, around my ankles and around my head. Then it was gone and hopefully is none the worse for wear after its unfortunate predicament.

I have no idea what species it was; the landing was gloomy and the bat moved with incredible speed and to be perfectly honest I would not have known even if it had sat on my hand and struck a pose. But for my part, bats are - quite simply - gorgeous and fascinating creatures and although having one inside the house is supposed to be a bad omen, I look upon it as a very interesting – and completely unexpected – interlude to the solitude and quietness of the wee small hours.

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