Thursday, 18 June 2009

In Heaven (The Lady In The Radiator song).

Not the greatest photograph I ever took, but the last time I attempted to blog on this subject I used somebody else's YouTube content, pressed the 'blog this' button, spent a not inconsiderable amount of time writing, pressed send... and nothing. Into the white.

So, this time, playing it safe, I've used a picture I took myself, last July, of the actual spot where I saw it. In case you're wondering why I took this picture of an indiscriminate part of the Irwell, well the tiny grey smudge near the far right of the greenery is a grey heron with its wings spread out, as if it's taking the applause of the river.

Anyway, I've tested this with a few people I know. The types who know I'm not a bullshitter. The types who know, colour-blindness aside, my eyesight is, to quote my dear dead Dad, "like that of a shit-house rat'. The types who know I say what I see, without any prompting from Roy 'Catchphrase' Walker. I've mulled it over, I've rolled it around in my head, I've even tried blogging it a couple of weeks back.

It was the afternoon of The Big Cup Final back in May. A Wednesday. Too eager to get home and enjoy the feast of football which was due to be served up I logged off my computer prematurely and found myself with half an hour to kill before the last Village Bus left Shudehill Interchange at 17.26. I decided I would take the scenic route in order to do a tiny bit of birdwatching.

So, across Bridge Street and left onto the footbridge which takes Inland Revenue Staff and the odd confused foreign tourist over The Irwell into Salford. Right along the river, keeping my eyes open for something. Anything. Nothing but boring bastard black-headed gulls on the mither for food.

Up the steps and left down Blackfriars Road onto the scrag-end of Chapel Street, right towards the old Victoria Bus Station, then right again up the hill and over the river again. Look right, back towards where I'd come from, as a heron sometimes fishes under Blackfriars Bridge, commuters and shoppers passing oblivious over his head. Nothing.

So up and left, opposite the Cathedral. Further round to the left than the view in the photo above, which was taken on the approach to the car park where Exchange Railway Station used to sit. Bear in mind I'm a pretty happy bunny at this point - off to watch his team play in the European Cup Final, with two days off work in front of him. (Just in case). Anyhow, I pause again and look over the metal fence, down towwards Victoria Bus Station where we used to come into town on the 95 bus from Broughton. Back in the day. Still nothing. Time to kill. I notice a grey wagtail and begin to follow its progress around the banks, eyes left, eyes right.

Then, in the water I spot a large fish. I'm intrigued. I've seen fish jumping in the river several times, but they were small and silver. This is much larger. I watch its movements for a few seconds until it's head comes up. Ah, a rat. Not seen one in the river since I used to go down The Landslide in the 70s. It's a bloody big one, though. I carry on tracking it until it reaches the bank you can see in the photograph (although there was less of it, the river being higher). Out it comes. It's not a rat. No rat-like tail, no pointed head, no ratty little ears.

It's an otter. Long, bendy and with the tail of an otter.

The otter, my otter, ran along the bank and headed behind the greenery in the photograph. I exclaimed, I grinned, I high-fived myself. I blinked, I doubted, I watched the spot for as long as I could and then I headed off to get the bus.

At home I hit the books, the internet and the descriptions of things that it might have been. The closest thing was a mink. It wasn't a mink. The shape was wrong, the tail was wrong. It was an otter.

In the end, losing to Barcelona carried no shame. They're sort of fan-owned, they play attractive attacking football and they're not Chelsea. Which is nice.

The football went wrong, but I had my otter to keep me warm.

No comments:

Post a Comment