Saturday, 20 October 2012

Elvis Redux (and not a bus in sight)


I happened to walk over the Falshaw Bridge again one dreich evening last week.  The rain had been pounding down for hours and the river was high in the gloom, a boiling pot of ink.  It was dark in the way only a stormy October evening can be.  The only points of light were the smears of foam on the river and Elvis, who was tucked up on a small bit of bank, the evil-looking water roiling past, close to encircling him on his almost island.  He glowed in the gloom--a sodden dingy white, his bright bill tucked into his neck, its tip buried deep in the wet, clinging feathers.  He looked indescribably noble and horribly lonely--a fairytale prince lost under some evil enchantment and I wondered again why he shunned the company of the other swans not far away in Inverleith Park.

A couple of days later I was walking up the road, wondering if Elvis would still be there when I heard someone calling out ahead of me, ‘where are you my lovely boy? Come along now,’ followed by the creak of the gate that leads onto the grass strip by the bridge.  When I was far enough along I could see a man of more than middle years wearing a long grey coat and carrying a large plastic bag.  He was still calling and had one hand held out, as you would to a friendly dog.  To my astonishment I saw Elvis--not walking, but running; bowing his head to be stroked by the man, who carried on chatting as he alternately petted Elvis and reached into his bag for the bread he had brought with him.  

Now, every swan I have ever seen has been aloof, cranky (if not down-right bad-tempered), largely unapproachable and certainly not cuddly.  An irascible temperament seems to go with their regal appearance. Yet here was this enormous, clumsy creature rushing to be caressed, his long neck looping with pleasure.  They moved off together across the grass and toward the river as if they were confiding in one another--the imperious white bird and his friend.  

Yes folks, I think it might be a bromance--the old man and the swan. Or perhaps it is a fairytale--the tale of a wizard and a lost prince.  In any case I hope it is a long story, as in life one thing is certain:  we can never be sure of a happy ending.

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