Diary of a retired parson
Jonathan Copus goes completely batty
There was a commotion in the living room. No, Mrs C and I weren’t fighting over the remote: a jackdaw had fallen down the chimney. It recognised Mrs C as a bird lover and happily allowed her to scoop it up. “Typical estate agent”, it said as it flapped away. “Never mentioned the dodgy floor”.
The next morning the same thing happened again. This time, the bird was just sitting there, looking indignant: “What kept you?” it asked.
After that, Mr and Mrs Jackdaw must have found another des res. Just as well for us: under the Wildlife and Countryside Act we could have been fined £5,000 and/or sent to jail if they had started to nest and we had dislodged our lodgers with a sweep’s brush up their birdie bums.
“Birds and animals have more rights than we do”, I grumped to Mrs C. “Look at the trouble we had with bats in St Peter’s. All that peeing on the pews. The bats as well.”
“They’re all God’s creatures”, she said.
“So am I. So are nasty little germs. Which would you rather have?”
“Give me a moment”, she said.
At St Brynach’s we couldn’t repair the roof without setting up bat hotels for our displaced guests, each with a reception desk and a ding-bell. All right, I made up the bit about the ding-bell. I’m all for respecting native fauna, but it’s a bit of an unequal bargain: we protect them, and as a ‘thank-you’ they give us rabies – and Coronavirus (at least, their Asian cousins do). You have to remove their offerings from the altar before each service and wipe your seat to avoid sticking to it.
In 2015 Sir Christopher Chope MP tried to get churches exempted from the obligation to defer to bats’ whims, and he raised the issue again this year, so far with no sign of success or sympathy. Meanwhile, numbers of our most common bat, Pipstrellus pipistrellus, have grown to over three million throughout the UK and it’s officially classed as of ‘Least Concern’ – the furthest category it can get from ‘endangered’. In any case, surely there is room in God’s wide world for bats and humans to co-exist without despoiling each other’s habitat?
We may have the last laugh, however. As Brother Bat and I grow old and incontinent together, I won’t be the one hanging upside down.