14 Nov

Have you noticed there are a lot of owls around at present?

I am buying into the owl trend by writing a blog post on the theme.

When I say ‘a lot of owls around’, I don’t mean a 1st chapter of Harry Potter-type scenario. There are not literally owls flocking between houses delivering news of a wonderboy wizard. Well, maybe there are, but I haven’t seen any. No, I am talking about an increase in the use of the owl motif.

Now I’m already a culprit here. I have a t-shirt with an owl on (well, a stylised owl) and a hairband – an alice band – with a little owl on the side. It’s only a matter of time before I buy me one of those big owl-pendant necklaces. And it’s not just me. Michael came back from Oxford with an owl hat. It has a little curved beak and everything. I’ve seen people in all sorts of owl-y things, from jumpers to t-shirts to bags. When somebody wears an owl-look waistcoat then the owl will have truly arrived. What is the current fascination with owls?

I mean, owls are pretty cool. My family used to go to our local garden centre far more frequently than I’m sure was strictly necessary because there was an owl rescue group or similar there. This meant there would always be owl handlers with different types of owl, all perched on their little perches, blinking at you with their big owly eyes, and sometimes, if you were lucky, you were allowed to stroke their owly heads. Have you ever stroked an owl’s head? They’re incredibly soft, and when you touch them they sort of narrow their eyes slightly like cats do when you scratch behind their ears. I guess the attraction of an owl is that they embody desirable human traits – they look cuddly, but they also look like they could take care of themselves (the claws, dude!) and they have big, soul-searching eyes, and they are associated with wisdom, and they can turn their heads all the way around. Well, maybe the last one not so much. But yeah. Owls. Damn cool.

It’s perhaps amazing that A. A Milne got away with what is frankly slanderous description of one Owl in particular in his Winnie the Pooh books. His Owl is revered by the neighbourhood for his wisdom and sagacity and spelling, but actually, he’s a bit of a thickie, and a manipulative, pompous one at that. The drawings (E. H Shepherd, not Disney), always make him look a bit jowly (a jowly owl, what a phrase) and he seems to behave like an unprepared teacher who is trusting to his commanding tone to see him through a lesson with a class which he is fairly sure will fall under his spell. ie, not like a *real* owl at all. A real owl would never do such a thing. (although now that I think about it, I’m sure owls are a cunning bunch).

Even more interesting is that we call a flock of owls a ‘parliament’. I like to imagine that owls, when they gather, sit on clearly delineated sides of a tree, and hoo-hoo alternately at each other in between joking about the other side’s manner of hoo-hooing. Or similar. I don’t know whether the collective noun was applied to raise the status attributed to owls, or to denigrate that applied to politicians. Although imagine the class expeditions to go and collect pellets (or chunder-nuggets, if you will, of undigested owl-dinner) in Parliament. Hilarity all round. Turns out DC can’t digest his caviar after all, ho ho.

Anyway, yeah. Owls.

Right. I’m going to bed. I have macaroons to fill in the morning. May scores of owls sing you to your rest X


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