The maiden wasn’t in distress as such, and she was probably a fair bit older than the girl in the picture. (But perhaps not old enough to remember Marc Bolan and T Rex?) But she obviously cared, which means a lot. Not only that, she didn’t just care in the “click ‘like’ on facebook with crying face emoji” sort of way. So she got on and did the job. But I suppose I’d better tell the tale in some sort of order.
I was just walking on my way from somewhere heading for somewhere else. I was just getting from one part of town to another to be honest. Time wasn’t particularly pressing, but it was probably going to rain so I wasn’t dawdling. Anyway, for no particular reason I took the path along the side of the reservoir.
Said “Hi” to the fishermen who were a bit fed up from the noise coming from a bunch of kids gathered round the back of a bar on the other side of the reservoir, picked my way along the muddy bits of the path and then came upon a lady with a dog who was feeding the swans.
So I said ‘hi’ to the dog as I normally do when they bound across to say ‘hi’ to me. It seems rude not to and once they’ve been acknowledged they’ll often bound off to look at something more interesting. But this led to saying ‘hi’ to the owner.
Now this conversation was taking place against a background of swans, one of whom wasn’t walking right. The maiden not actually in distress gestured to it and explained it had had some fishing line caught round its leg. She’d cut the fishing weight off with nail scissors but the line was still caught.
I asked, “Have you contacted the RSPCA.”
“Yes, a fortnight ago. They said they couldn’t do anything.”
So she’d taken to feeding the swans, and after two weeks she’d plucked up the courage to go near enough to cut the trailing fishing weight off.
But it was obvious the rest of the line was still entangled. Now given she’d cut the weight off, it struck me that she was obviously used to handling them, so I suggested that, because it knew her, the swan would let her catch it, and then we could get the line off its leg.
At this point I might interrupt myself to rant about health and safety. People talk about how dangerous swans are. Trust me; they’re smaller, lighter and less dangerous than cattle. Not only that but at the time I was standing three feet from several of them and they didn’t seem to regard me as a problem. End of rant.
So together we caught it, which was as simple as her putting her hand down and gently enfolding it in her arms whilst ensuring she held the top of its neck. I looked at the line, couldn’t untangle it but luckily cut it with a door key. Three minutes later we’d got rid of all traces of the line and the swan was back in the water and swimming off.
At this point a young couple with four children, a dog, and a bag of bread arrived. Husband asks if it was the swan with the tangled foot. Maiden no longer in distress explained it was and a discussion ensues.
At which point Maiden comments, “Until he asked me to, I’d never so much as touched a swan in my life.” (Apparently when cutting off the weight she’d crawled up to it on hands and knees.)
Anyway, all I can say to that is ‘The lass done good.’ Anyway I made my farewells and left them all chatting happily, watching the swan swim away in the distance.
But it’s nice to know that there are people who care, and not only who care, but care enough to crawl through the dirt on their hands and knees, equipped only with a pair of nail scissors, to do what they feel has to be done.
And still have the self belief necessary to blithely pick up an adult swan when some wandering idiot asks you to, because it needs doing.
And as for the swan? Well it’s got two chances, same as the rest of us. It’ll either live or it’ll die. Mind you, it would have a better chance of living if somebody had done the job a fortnight ago.