SLOW DOWN. This is the most beautiful time of year, when proof of the existence of a benign and munificent God is abundant in our hedgerows and in our tree blossom; and meanwhile, comparable proof abounds that no such kindly all-seeing being could possibly have created the murder-competition that has turned our fields into the Third Battle of Ypres.
The sparrow-hawk that kills the hen blackbird does so to feed her young, while in the black-bird nest, most of the now-motherless fledglings die. At sunset, the single youngster that the cock-bird has managed to keep alive then flutters to the nearest branch; it draws its first independent breath, and is promptly seized by a swooping owl, whose wide-eyed squawking offspring are meanwhile glaring hungrily into the night.
So, we humans shouldn't be adding to the horrendous bird death toll by driving fast down our country roads. Yet clearly, many of us are unaware of the hopelessly helpless young birds that are leaving their nests, with all the aerodynamic characteristics of feathered tonsils. Pitted against them are the dimorphic idiots in cars who define the differences between the sexes.
For the man who drives too fast, speed is an expression of the rage and aggression and libido, which he normally manages to keep in check; but once the brain and testes are linked by pedal and rod to a carburettor, he's theirs: a slave to hormones. And then there's the woman driver, whose multitasking brain can juggle many intellectual tasks -- the afternoon timetable of collecting the kids from school and going to the supermarket, with the vouchers, of course, in her purse, meanwhile listening to what Bridget is telling her on the phone about her so-called friend Tara -- "She said what? The cow!" -- even though, strictly speaking, it's against the law to hold a phone to your ear while you're driving, but really, it's fine, because she can manage, even if she can't change gear, though actually, she doesn't need to, not going this quickly, and anyway, who's going to notice her on the phone on this tiny country lane? And no, that's not a large fly that just left its face imprinted forever on her windscreen, but a baby wren.
You can actually tell an aggressive male driver to slow down, with the smallest possibility that he might actually follow your advice. But what hope is there with a compulsive multi-tasker who, by definition, cannot prioritise? For prioritising means focus, and focus eliminates multitasking: the reason there are almost no female composers, or chess grandmasters or Formula 1 drivers. So it comes down once again to the male brain and the female brain; one with testosterone and one without: the outcome is much the same. Both go speeding through the bird-nurseries of our country roads -- splat! splat! splat! -- as legions of hapless fledglings are turned into beaked and clawed thumbprints of gory gristle on the roads, suitable for collection only by skilled philatelists. Did you ever wonder how An Post got those bird-stamps? Now you know: licked them off the stones.
Does AA Roadwatch ever urge motorists to take it easy at this time of year? I don't recall them doing so, but maybe that's because I don't understand their extraordinary English. AA Roadwatchers are apparently given special elocution lessons that result in a strange vowel-soup, a sort of phonetic caeiounsomme. "End awn the ryaid awff the Telleght Raoundaboat there has been a slaight collusion between a cor, a caow and a craow." And normally, the crow would come off worst of all in such a Tallaght collision, with the cow second, and the car third, unless, that is, it's a Toyota Yaris, the most irritating car that the world has seen since Herren Daimler und Benz first got hyphenated. But that aside: can AA Radeworch possibly get its girls to urge motorists to slay dane on kentry ryaids?
The hawthorn blossoms, or whitethorn, are also now at their most immoral: over the next few days, the hedgerows of Ireland come over all hormonal, as the great snowdrifts of whitethorn dramatically turn a subtle pink and then a deep crimson. Hawthorn flowers, the whores, having flaunted themselves shamelessly in gaudy white, are now, as the season ends, striving to lure those insects that are drawn to red, for a final fertilising knee-trembler: quick, quick, now now! And as the tiny socialist flies, waving their banners, flock toward the floral equivalent of the Red Flag, they are gobbled up by birds who have fledglings back home to feed. Nature is thus a vast pyramid of murder, predation and even, in the case of ladybirds, cannibalism. Firstly, ladybirds are utter wantons anyway -- lesbianism, leather, you name it -- for whom VD comes before windscreens, both in the dictionary and as a cause of death. But also, ladybirds often eat one another, sometimes even in the middle of sex: we never hear warnings about really important stuff like that from AA Roadwatch, now do we?
But stay! This column is not about ladybirds, or nuns or whitethorn, or the strange Korean diphthongs of AA Roadwatch, but about the needless massacre of fledglings. Motorists: SLOW DOWN!