How are things going with the gos? Well, I have been amiss. I didn't really believe all those old books—and indeed, all those new books—that held forth about how goshawk manning never really ends. How you have to keep your goshawk tame by constantly taking it to scary things, while holding its attention with a scrappy bit of tiring on your fist. No. It wasn't that I thought better of such mundane activities. It's more that I didn't think of them at all. Two months ago I had a bomb-proof, car-proof, tractor-proof goshawk. I'd walk past a harrowing John Deere and she wouldn't even bother to look at it. I'd wander through town, and she'd find people unremarkable. "Yes, people, whatever. Where's my tiring?"
But circumstances have changed. My old house was a glorious one for an austringer. Sit the goshawk on a perch in the living room, and open the curtains, and there, all day, no more than ten feet away, processions of people and dogs and buggies and umbrellas and cars. No wonder she was so magnificently manned.
Now I'm living out in distant suburbia. It's nice to have a proper weathering lawn, even if the next-door neighbours have thoroughly spooked poor Mabel with vicious leaf-raking activities. She's scared to death of them, now, and even jumps when she hears their back door slam. Let me not even mention my being accused of "scaring away all the little birds". Gah.
But we just don't see people any more. Isolation during the day, and then a quiet walk up on an empty hillside. It's not that I've intentionally kept her away from people. It's more that she doesn't see any.
It's a disaster. I have a friend staying, and Mabel is terrified of him. She freaks out if she sees dog walkers two fields away. I have unmanned, as it were, my goshawk.
So what do I do? Well, the nearest place to this house with any number of people is Addenbrookes hospital. I am tempted to take my grotty bit of rabbit leg and my goshawk and go and stand outside the A&E department. Ambulances? Stretchers? People in fluorescent clothing? Crowds? Oh, that would do it. I might get arrested for some kind of public order offence, but what's an ASBO or a spell in a cell compared to a goshawk that's manned, again?