The woman from the Colchester based falconry company called back this morning, not too early it being a Sunday, to ask whether the escaped hawk was still about, but we hadn't had sight nor sound since the last clank of bells at ten past one yesterday lunchtime. The Systems Administrator did find a scattering of freshly plucked pigeon feathers outside the workshop. We can't be absolutely sure they had anything to do with the bird I saw given we regularly find piles of feathers, and there are sparrow hawks about, but the falconer thought they were probably linked. From my rather scanty description she had guessed the lost bird was a Harris hawk, and they are natural pigeon catchers, not rabbiters. But one pigeon would not last it long, and by today it would be hungry again, and Harris hawks are a Mexican species not adapted to spending frosty nights out of doors.
If it was the bird she thought it was, it came from Wivenhoe and this was the second time it had gone on the run. Her team managed to catch it before, but were obliged to return it to its lawful owner. This time it had been out for several days, and she was very keen to retrieve it before it tangled itself up or froze to death, though I sensed she was rather less keen to give it back a second time to somebody who seemed incapable of looking after it. I promised we'd ring her if we heard anything more of it. She had primed a falconer who lived extremely locally to come round at once if we made the call, but I don't think either of us were very confident we'd see it again. As the SA pointed out, if it's been loose for several days it must be moving around, because this was the first time we've seen it.
In the afternoon there was a music society concert. Last time we had an internationally famous quartet who gave almost exactly the same programme a few days later at the Wigmore Hall. This time it was the turn of a young cellist. Her first pianist had to withdraw for personal reasons after we'd printed the annual programme. Today's substitute pianist was suffering from a gastric bug and had been very sick earlier in the day. The Chairman warned us at the beginning that he had been poorly, and might have to leave the stage during the concert. He made it through to the end, but I have never seen a piano played in concert before by somebody looking wan to the point of being positively green. When taking his bows between numbers I did wonder if he was actually clinging to the piano for support. Still, the show went on, which was extremely game of him.
The Chairman had emailed us before the concert to say that she'd found someone to set the chairs out and put them away again for twenty pounds, which seemed to me a bargain given the music society is solvent. I don't know who it was, but they had ignored the instruction to put out all the chairs and instead filled the hall up with chairs, which is not the same thing, so before the concert started there was a great deal of shuffling of rows and frankly elderly men hurrying back and forth with extra seats. There were no mishaps, but after the news about the pianist it would just have rounded things off if somebody had collapsed. My contribution to the festivities was to help organise the mince pies. You don't get those at the Wigmore Hall.
I'm beginning to see why The Archers editors and scriptwriters have steadily abandoned touch with reality. An everyday story of country folk as it actually happens includes days and days when nothing happens. There was a stray bird but it went away again. Somebody sprained their arm. A man felt sick but played the piano anyway. Some chairs were in the wrong place but people moved them. The end.