Mike Lowe: How to spot an imposter

'Spot' the blackbird

My wife’s latest ‘pet’ is a blackbird called Spot - Credit: Helen Lowe

Our former editor casts an often-jaundiced eye over life in the Cotswolds

TO SAY that my wife is an animal lover would be an understatement. We are still in official mourning for our beloved lurcher a year after his demise and the ashes of all previous dogs lurk at the back of various wardrobes around the house. The whippets are understandably wary. 

Her latest ‘pet’ is a blackbird called Spot, named after the white dot in the middle of his pure black head. Spot is waiting on the doorstep for her every morning and returns sporadically during the day, following her around, assisting with various gardening duties and feasting on three different kinds of eye-wateringly expensive wild bird food. 

So far, so good. But, as ever, a black cloud lurks on the horizon. While they have been known to last into double figures, the average lifespan of a blackbird is just 3.5 years. That’s without taking into account the homicidal intent of the bastard Burmese cat from down the lane. So avian mortality is inevitable and I’m not looking forward to the weeping and wailing that will accompany Spot’s eventual demise. 

But wait. I have a cunning plan. In the back garden resides what looks like a younger blackbird. He may even be a Son of Spot. He looks a biddable bird and I’m sure the lure of a luxury diet would soon have him following my wife without much persuasion. If his introduction is timed carefully, my wife might never know that he isn’t the original. 

There is one small drawback. Son of Spot’s head is blemish-free. Pure black, no spot. So yesterday I went into a stationery shop and bought a bottle of Tippex. 

I’VE HAD  to stop watching certain food programmes on television because of the way some people wield their cutlery. It’s appalling; like watching a drunken chimpanzee juggling with six-inch nails. And I’m not just talking ‘scooping’ peas here which, from an efficiency point of view, is borderline permissible. I suppose it’s just another aspect of the British obsession with “class” and my own prejudices. 

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Here are a couple of questions for you. Do you have a chiming doorbell or a simple knocker? Do you own a Rottweiler or a Jack Russell? (And is it called Tyson or Bertie?) Is the water in your toilet blue or clear? And do you holiday in Orlando or Norfolk? 

Your answers could be life-changing, particularly if you want a career at the BBC, which has announced that by 2027 it wants a quarter of its staff to be from a working class background. And apparently an affirmative answer to the first part of the above questions marks you out as one of the proletariat. 

You may be interested to know that the scheme is already in place at BBC Radio Gloucestershire, where star presenter Mark Cummings is not only from The North, but owns a lurcher and rides a bike. As for the colour of his toilet water, I am unsure. 

I GET on pretty well with my illustrious neighbour, the Prince of Wales. The Duchess of Cornwall rarely makes much noise when playing on the couple’s trampoline and bonfires on a washing day are a rare occurrence. 

However, I have to draw the line somewhere, and that line is fitting catalytic converters to cows. I’ll say it again: fitting catalytic converters to cows. The moove, which has the Prince’s backing, involves sticking some kind of mask on the beasts to reduce the amount of methane they pump out. 

Now I’m all for protecting the bucolic beauty of our Cotswold countryside, but I’m afraid that watching a herd of Belted Galloways clanking across a field dragging a Vauxhall Corsa exhaust system behind then doesn’t really cut the mustard. 

Follow Mike on Twitter: @cotswoldeditor1