I’m not naturally an early riser, a bit of a cold starter you could say. But living in the woods, in spring, is a cure-all for that particular affliction. Folk rhapsodise about the beauty of the dawn chorus, and it is indeed, a wonder. But I have been deaf to its poetry on occasion and taken against the little minstrels, the subtitle to their dawn warble reading less of a pean to the coming day and more of an order saying you will be up.
A blackbird lets rip outside my window and I curse its dark heart. A pleasant dream cruelly curtailed, I find myself hurled from sleep into the pre-dawn gloom of a cold wagon. As the birds’ morning hymn rises through the wood, I remain horizontal, in open dissent to orders. But sleep proving hopeless I finally fall in and sit up, my head swathed in blanket; a wooly Lawrence.
Pig stirs. He needs a pee. He throws his head back, imploring me, his skull the shape of a lead bossing mallet. I pretend I haven’t noticed: ‘Just give me another minute old man‘, I think. But I feel his desire, a phantom throb in my bladder.
I shake myself free of the bed. Bare feet greet wood. I duck under lines of washing, drying across the width of the van, but am caught by a pair of underpants that hang shrivelled, like an old man’s testicle, towards the door. They catch me under the chin and as I step forward pull back hard over my face. I’m momentarily blinded in a confusing world of dirty white, the worn crotch pinned under my nose. With the sudden, pyrotechnic energy of a man fighting off a swarm of bees, I tear the genital pouch from my face, gasping, revolted.
In the return to stillness, I catch Pig regarding me with indifference. Slapstick is not his bag – at least not before breakfast.