Letter from Prague Nest sets cat among pigeons regarding neighbourly relations
Pigeons are not my favourite creatures, but a liquidation demand from the neighbours was not to my liking. It sparked a month long pigeon purgatory to avoid the death calls until they young birds had a chance to fly away.
The pigeon nightmare that has haunted my last weeks began when I bumped into the head of the flat owners’ cooperative in the street. ‘I have a nasty task for you she said.’ She continued to describe how pigeons had made a nest on my balcony and that I should get rid of whatever was there by any means as soon as possible. This woman is not the sort you want to get the wrong side of and her death sentence on the presumed pigeons was not to be taken lightly.
My balcony is a sort of unused appendix to the rest of the flat. It broods over a dark inner courtyard and I curtained it off and never bothered looking there much. I crept out and, true enough, two pigeon chicks looked bleakly and beakily back at me from a discarded plastic paint pot that made up part of my balcony mess.
The liquidation and cleansing order were not carried out. The matter was raised again at a regular flat owners’ meeting a few days later. I had thought I would turn up and brazen it out but this turned out to be the wrong tactic.
At first, the meeting to be going well and seemed to be mainly occupied by some change in the Czech law which seemed to suggest a change in the statutes of the owners’ association. What the law wanted and what the owners were prepared to settle on was far from clear and the meeting turned nasty with raised voices and accusations. At one stage one fellow flat owner accused the other of being mad as the imposing association chairwoman danced up and down ahead of her frequent verbal interventions.
Bring it on, I thought, as the diversion from the pigeon issue continued. But as I attempted to creep away from the shouting I was called back. The pigeon issue was soon raised together with the suggestion that I should called in profession pigeon killing firm, I suppose at my cost.
I checked on the Internet for the time it takes for pigeons to fledge and the rather vague Czech law on their protection, or lack of it. I should add here that Prague Two municipal council appears to be a nest of pigeon haters or have some links to the contract killers since they were all out in favour of liquidation when I asked for advice on the birds’ status. No worries about protection, they assured.
Unfortunately, although pigeon milk is supposed to be equivalent of Popeye’s spinach for strength giving qualities, the chicks took weeks to grow and fledge. In the meantime, the regular evening rings of the doorbell started and eventually a large notice targeting the untidy pigeon hosting balcony owner on the second floor appeared in the entrance hall.
To avoid the neighours, I got up early and worked late or went to about every evening film showing in Prague until I had seen almost all the latest releases. I covered my bedside lamp with newspapers so that the glow would not give away my presence when I tried to read at night. The television, this was pre- football world cup days, was switched off because of its betraying light as well. The stairs to my flat were climbed in socks and with baited breath ready for a quick escape.
Around four weeks of this escapism came to an end last week with the flight of the young pigeons and parents. I wish them luck, but not an early return.