HOLLY MIRANDA SMALE

Writer, photographer, "rapper" and general technophobe takes on the internet in what could be a very, very messy fight. But it's alright: she's harder than she looks, and she's wearing every single ring she could get her hands on.







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Friday, 22 May 2009

Tits

For my grandad's birthday a few years ago, the entire family clubbed together and bought him a gift that David Attenborough himself would be thrilled with.

BBB - otherwise known as Bird Big Brother - is a bird box, and yet it is no ordinary bird box: inside the bird box is a tiny camera, hooked up directly to a very large flatscreen television. With the press of a button (button undetermined: the only person who knows which button it is appears to be my grandad, no matter how many times he tries to explain it to my grandma), Coronation Street switches off, and BBB appears in full, 15 inch , black and white glory. For the majority of the year this is obviously no great shakes - it's just an empty box - but, in spring, it becomes full to the brim of tiny blue-tits, magnified to such a degree that they look vaguely like massive furry dinosaurs.

Without exception, it's the best TV going, and every year there have been dramas of one kind or another. During BBB1, for instance, one of the eggs didn't hatch; during BBB3 it was a single parent family and the mother looked furious all the time. Nobody talks much about BBB2, because both parents disappeared and the chicks died in the box, leaving my grandparents to eventually drag the box off the wall in an attempt to save the remaining soldiers (it couldn't be done - they were too tiny - and to this day it makes us all sad). 

We're on BBB4 now, and by God is it fascinating. A brood of six giant, one foot big grey chicks - who, in reality, are about two inches big and blue and yellow - have all grown healthily, and both parents have returned every minute or so with giant (tiny) caterpillars, to the general uproar and commotion of the kids. The kids have pecked each other, slept, climbed on top of each other, given the mum and dad no thanks at all for feeding them (and for carrying away their poo in their beaks), fluffed themselves up, stared woefully at the camera, and occasionally stuck their little heads out of the hole to see what's out there.

On Monday, two of the chicks flew. It's what they do, apparently: they just puff their wings up a bit, say goodbye and then leave the hole and never come back. On Tuesday, another two left. And on Wednesday, at a ridiculous time of morning (this bird is clearly going to be one of the early singers who wakes me up when I'm hungover), the fifth bird made his tiny little way out into the world.

Last night, we all arrived at my grandparents for a birthday dinner (everyone - and I mean everyone - in my family appears to have a birthday in May). 

The sixth bird is still in the box.

We stood around staring at it for a few seconds, and then my dad said:
"What's wrong with it?"
My grandad shook his head.
"He's a bit reluctant, this one," he admitted. "He keeps poking his head out and then going back in and going back to sleep. It's very strange, for a bird."
At which point, one of the parents returned with a caterpillar and the remaining chick - who is getting unfeasibly fat - started squawking.
"Well no wonder he's not leaving," my younger cousin pointed out: "they're still pandering to him! He's never going to leave the nest if they do that."
There was a long pause, during which me and my oldest cousin - who has just moved home with her mum - stared at the carpet. And then everybody started sniggering.
"I mean, what is he?" my dad eventually managed: "27 or 30 years old or something?"

In the bird's defence, the economy is pretty bad out there. Maybe he's just trying to save up enough caterpillars to be able to find his own box. Maybe he stuck his head out, and got a little bit nervous about what he saw. Or maybe - just maybe - he isn't actually sure he's going to fit through the hole anymore.

Either way, if you see an obscenely chunky blue-tit wobbling around in the air: give him a wave. He might be one of ours.