Starlings are the world’s best invention.
I feel obliged to tell you, first, that they are not actually birds.
They are monkeys dressed in bird bones and otter pelt, slicked with oil and dusted with shooting stars.
They remember being dinosaurs. Now watch them on the street, indifferent to all the towering apes, raptoring along the pavement.
Their bodies are living metal and they liquidly step, glinting. In their alchemy they are proud and they are jokers. Dinosaur and monkey. Petty pilferers of fruit peel and dropped crumbs. Stake-outers of the stalls where I buy my ginger and turmeric, and the car park of Ladbroke Grove Sainsbury’s.
And when they are not striding brazenly in your full view, they are hogging the airwaves. They are talking nonsense. They are probably discussing metaphysics.
Their language is as rich and heady as a river of champagne, bubbling and whistling and popping and things humans have no words for.
They astonish me every morning as I wait for the eastbound tube at Westbourne Park, hidden in the dark line of trees across from the platform, mocking my bondage to the commuter life. I cannot communicate to you how noisy the starlings in those trees are. I can believe that every starling in the world is hiding in them.
I haven’t even talked about the murmurations. Truth is, I’ve only ever seen fragments of such physics-bending glory. I hope this will change one day, but I fear the flocks will vanish first.
Still. One starling is enough for me, if I know the others fly. One starling is soul food, conjuring a smile from me as it oils-monkeys-dinosaurs past me on the street.