August 17, 2006

A Cat Amongst The Pigeons

Urgh, I seem to find myself apologising for my lameness vis-a-vis my posting frequency far more often than I'd like, these days. The truth is, I can't ever seem to get away from the Underbelly, even when I'm not on duty. There's always some show that I want to see, or some group of friends having a drink— and now the lovely Maryam is visiting so I really have very little time to sit down for some quality bonding with my keyboard (let alone read through enough news stories to yield anything worth talking about).

That said, has anybody else read about this quintessentially British (and hilariously idiomatic) murder story?
A man has been jailed for killing his neighbour after blaming her for a fire which killed 50 of his pigeons.

Pigeon-fancier Michael Stockton, 44, of Audley, Staffordshire, shot dead Susan Rondel after a heavy drinking session.

The father-of-two told Birmingham Crown Court he had no memory of shooting Mrs Rondel, 48, originally from Wales, who had accused him of poisoning her cat . . .

Det Insp Guy Titchener, of Staffordshire Police, said: "Clearly, the relationship between cats and pigeons got out of hand - with both parties blaming each other for the poisoning of cats and the interference and death of pigeons."

Now, I know what you're asking: what the fuck is a pigeon-fancier? The answer is, fairly simply, someone who keeps and breeds pigeons (though I do like the OED's broader entry on 'fanciers' in general: "One who has a liking for, and a critical judgement in, some class of curiosities, plants, animals, etc."). This, of course, raises a whole host of other questions, most obviously: why would anyone freely choose to partake of a pastime with a name that sounds so unsavoury? I mean, can you imagine explaining that to someone at a party?

A: So, what do you do?
B: I'm a pigeon-fancier.
A: Oh. Is that like, um, a kiddy-fiddler?
B: What?! No! I just have a liking for—and a critical judgement in—pigeons.
A: Are you hugh?
B: No, George.
A: Sorry, that was a typo. I meant to ask if you were high.

Also, "I blame you for the interference of pigeons!" is probably the best thing ever uttered directly before committing manslaughter.

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