It is summer, it is hot and sunny, and I am therefore spending a lot of time in my garden. The other day I strolled through it, and stumbled across a dying baby bird underneath a bush.
Aside from its very heavy breathing, the only movements it made were the occasional, vain stretch of its legs and barely feathered wings. It was covered in eager flies. It was clearly not going to make it.
Damn cats, I thought to myself, certain that one of the cantakerous neighbourhood strays had plucked it from its nest, played with it, and left it for dead without bothering to finish off the job.
I couldn’t decide what to do. I knew it couldn’t be brought back to health (even without knowing the standard advice from the RSPB, I knew it was beyond saving). So, I wondered, should I scoop it up and put it in a shoe box and leave it to die peacefully inside my house, away from the flies? Should I smash its neck with a shoe instead, ending its suffering instantly? Or should I leave it to nature’s course, and the flies?
I texted my friends. I dabbled on the internet. I kept checking back on the bird for several hours, as it continued to struggle, and cursed my indecision. I always have trouble making decisions.
In the end I did nothing. It took many hours to expire.
Later, a friend recounted to me seeing a bird hit by a train mid-flight and then wound up lying on the platform, crippled and twitching. A woman calmly went up to the bird, and snapped its neck with her bare hands, prompting my friend to give her tissues from her purse to wipe off the blood.
I wish I had been that sensible.