I met my neighbours (mother and daughter) juste outside our building a little while ago. I was trying to set up a nest box for blue tits in the chestnut tree just under our window. Because I like blue tits and also why not. So, my neighbours saw me perched in a precarious position on a tiny stool (somehow evolution failed to calculate that I would end up being one metre sixty and that’s really not practical when tits refuse to nest in places lower than two metres).
Their very natural reaction was to lose it. But they’re too polite to show it, so they just watched me with aghast faces.
‘You shouldn’t do that, you know,’ the mother said. ‘We don’t mind, but people are going to be very unhappy.’
‘They have no reason to be. And then if someone really dislikes it, I’ll take it down.’
‘It’s going to attract pigeons.’
‘The hole is tiny. It’s for blue tits. Pigeons won’t even notice it.’
‘It’s very… visible.’
‘Once the leaves have finished growing, nobody will see a thing, I promise.’
‘Well, if you must. But people are going to disagree. You know how people are around here.’
Side note: I just love it when someone uses ‘people’ as an excuse for telling you off while trying not to sound too close-minded. ‘People’ are such bastards.
The daughter watched me with obvious disapproval, while I did my best not to land on my backside with a massive nest box embedded in my chest (did you know how heavy these things are? Because bloody hell, they are heavy).
‘Well, I think it’s very big,’ she said with pursed lips. ‘And I say that if people start doing whatever they want around here, then I’ll just come down and put my dog’s house up in the tree, and let’s see what people will say!’
So here’s the moral of the story:
You know the famous ‘slippery slope’ argument? Aka. when people tell you that if you take some ever so slightly progressive steps in society, then everything is going to magically descend into chaos because there will be no limits anymore, and that’s why doing something perfectly logical and reasonable like allowing everyone to marry whoever they like (or hanging a nest box in a tree that’s regularly visited by birds) is for some reason going to cause people to do all sorts of ugly things like committing incest and starting the apocalypse that will wipe out mankind?
As far as I’m concerned, this argument is now known as the ‘doghouse in the tree’ argument.
And if you’re curious about what became of the nest box: it’s still there, but I put it up too late and no bird took residence in it yet. In any case, incredibly enough… ‘people’ have failed to complain.