One morning, very early, Jake was lying in bed, listening to the rain pitter pattering on the roof.
“Too bad. Football will be cancelled today,” he thought. “We’ll have to stay indoors and play table tennis — only there are only two tables, so we will sit around for most of the time.”
As he was lying there, he felt something cold on his nose. He rubbed it with his finger. It was wet, like a drop of water. And then:
Another drop landed on his nose.
He looked up and saw yet another drop of water clinging to the ceiling.
The drop let go of the ceiling and dripped onto Jake’s forehead.
“Yuck!” he said. And then he called out:
“Mum!!!! There’s water coming through the ceiling!”
Mum was still asleep and did not hear him. Jake got out of bed and watched the water dripping quite steadily now onto his pillow. When it was getting-up time, and Mum arrived, his bed was already soaking.
“Oh Jake! Why didn’t you call me? There’s a hole in the roof.”
“I did call out,”replied Jake, “but you were asleep.”
“Well someone will have to go up to the roof and take a look,” she said.
That someone was Dad.
Their house had a butterfly roof, which means it slopes inwards and the water collects in a gully. Dad climbed out through a hatch and looked around for a hole. It was raining hard and he was getting extremely wet and the roof was rather slippery.
He was about to give up and go back down the hatch when a bird, sheltering from the wind by the chimney, cawed at him.
“I know you,” said Dad. “You’re Birdy, the crow that Jake likes to talk to.”
The bird flapped its wings and hopped across the sloping roof. He stopped where some tiles were out of place and even worse, the felt underneath them was torn.
“Caw!” he said.
“You’re right,” said Dad. “That must be where the leak is coming from.”
And then he recalled that a man had been up on the roof at the end of summer to look for a wasp’s nest. He must have accidentally broken some tiles and not mentioned it. That was why the rain was now leaking into Jake’s bedroom.
“Well thank you, Birdy,” said Dad. “That’s really helpful.”
Just as he was about to lower himself down through the hatch, a large bird flew just over his head, almost touching him.
“Eek!” it said.
“Stop that Birdy!” called out Dad.
A moment later, he thought to himself, “Birdy doesn’t usually go ‘eek!’ he goes ‘caw!’ but he did not stop to ponder the question for long, because he had more urgent things to do, like getting out of the rain.
When he arrived at work, Dad looked on the internet and found a roofing company. He called and arranged a visit. That evening, a man from the company came round. He had an extremely large tummy. Jake said:
“How are you going to get through the hatch onto the roof?”
“Oh you won’t catch me going up on the roof,” said the man. “Far too dangerous. I’ll just stick my head out and take a look.”
Which is what he did. He stood on the step ladder and put his head through the hatch. When he had been looking for a couple of minutes, there was a very loud cry from somewhere above his head.
He ducked down quickly. “Seagulls!” he said, alarmed.
“Seagulls?” We’re miles from the sea,” said Jake.
“Yes, but that doesn’t stop ‘em coming inland and making their nests in the chimneys of town houses,” he said. “A real hazzard they are, those seagulls. Crazy aggressive!”
“Oh come on, you’re not afraid of some birds, are you?” asked Mum.
“I’m not, but the lad that has to go up on the roof will be. How would you like to be working high up with those great big angry birds buzzing around your head? It ain’t nice, is it?”
“My best friend is a bird,” said Jake.
“Good for him!” said the man.
Jake’s bedroom ceiling continued to drip for the next three days. Mum replaced his pillow with a plastic tub and he went to sleep in the spare room. Towards the end of the week, when the sun was shining, three roofers came over to fix the tiles. Fortunately they were slim enough to climb through the hatch. But all day, the seagulls, who were nesting in a chimney pot, swooped over their heads, scratched their scalps with their claws, and even pecked at them.
“Ere, clear off!” called the men, along with some bad words that we won’t repeat here.
When Jake returned home from school, the roofers were packing up their van.
“Did you fix the roof?” he asked. “Because it’s been leaking onto my bed.”
“Sorry,” said one of the men. “We couldn’t get much done today. The seagulls were bothering us non-stop.”
Jake saw mum rolling her eyes. She clearly thought these roofers were rather pathetic to be bothered by seagulls. One of the men saw her expression.
“It’s alright for you Mrs. You don’t have to go up there and fight em off.”
“Come back tomorrow. They won’t bother you. I promise,” said Jake.
“We’ll give it a try,” said the chief roofer. “But if they won’t give us any peace, we will pack up by lunchtime.”
When they were gone, Mum asked, “What makes you think the seagulls won’t be as naughty tomorrow as they were today?”
“Cos I’m going to talk to Birdy,” said Jake.
He went up to his room, and waited for his friend to call round, which he usually did in the early evening.
Just after six, Birdy tapped at the window.
“What’s up?” he cawed.
“The seagulls keep attacking the roofers,” said Jake. “And my ceiling is still dripping every time it rains.”
“Caw!” said Birdy. “I’d better speak to them.”
“I’m not sure the roofers will understand you,” said Jake.
“Not the roofers. The seagulls, you silly,” said Birdy.
He went off to negotiate with the family of gulls. Fifteen minutes later he returned and said:
“They’ve agreed to let the roofers work tomorrow so long as they don’t come near the chimney.”
“Great thanks,” said Jake.
“And they say that if you have any sardines, they would be glad for you to leave them on the garden table. They’re miles away from the sea and it’s hard to find decent fresh fish. The scraps from the bin outside the fish and chip shop really don’t cut it.”
“Right, I’ll ask Mum.” said Jake. He went downstairs and passed on the message about the sardines.
“Well it’s not a bad idea,” she said. “It might distract the seagulls from attacking the men. The only problem is, when they’ve finished eating, they might go back to annoying them.”
“Birdy says they won’t,” said Jake.
“Well oh-kay,” said Mum, doubtfully. “I suppose it’s worth a try.”
And so the next morning, after she had dropped Jake off at school, she stopped by at the supermarket and bought some sardines for the seagulls, and lots of teabags and chocolate digestive biscuits for the roofers.
The seagulls were extremely grateful for the sardines. Tibby, the nextdoor cat, was somewhat disappointed that they would not share their meal. The roofers were pleased because it did not rain and they were not attacked by the gulls. Instead they noticed a friendly crow watching over them while they worked. When Jake came home, the roof was fixed. His ceiling still smelt a little damp, but Mum said that after it had dried out in a week or so, the decorator would come round and fix it.
“You see, I told you that Birdy had negotiated a truce with the gulls,” he said.
“Yes, you did,” agreed Mum.
Some time went by, and the decorator came round and repainted Jake’s ceiling. He returned to his room one saturday morning.
He had not seen Birdy for a week, and was delighted when he tapped on the window. He seemed excited and was hopping back and forth from one leg to the other. This time it was Jake who asked, “What’s up?”
“I’ll say what’s up,” said Birdy. “Some burglars cut through the French doors round the back of number 14 and are looking around for stuff to steal.”
“Wow!” said Jake. “I’ll get Mum to call the police.” And he immediately ran downstairs and called out, “Mum! Birdy says there are burglars climbing into number 14. Call the police!!”
“I can’t do that,” said Mum. “If I say a little bird told us that burglars are at work, they’ll think I’m a loony and time waster.”
“Oh,” said Jake. “But Birdy’s right. He always is.”
“Oh Jake!” said Mum. “I can’t go by what a bird says.”
Just then, Jake heard Dad come in through the front door with the shopping from the supermarket. “Dad, Birdy says there are burglars at number 14. What shall we do?”
“Well I don’t know about you, but I’ve had a long week and want to go back to bed for a nice nap,” said Dad.
“OOOOHH! This is no good! Grownups don’t know anything!” said Jake. When he returned to his room, Birdy was gone. Jake fixed his gaze on Number 14. It was not long before two men came out wearing motorbike helmets. They were both carrying bags and soon jumped onto mopeds. They started to speed down the road, but before they could reach the t-junction…
Three seagulls dive bombed them. The men tried to fight off the aerial attack, but it wasn’t easy to ride a moped when a seagull was attacking your head, even if you were wearing headgear. One gull flapped in front of the lead biker’s visa, and another swooped down and crashed into the side of his head with its talons, while a third pecked at the second biker’s gloves. It wasn’t long before the burglar came off his bike and the second went skidding across the road and crashed into a gatepost. A Georgian silver teapot rolled out of one bag followed by an antique French carriage clock, which landed on the pavement and smashed into pieces.
The bikers’ got to their feet and ran, leaving the loot behind.
Jake called out of his window: “Go-on Gulls, get’em.” His dad came into the room to ask what was going on. “Look!” said Jake. Dad looked out onto the street and saw the men fighting off the gulls who were trying to cut off their retreat.
“Well I never,” said Dad. “I never knew seagulls could be so aggressive.”
“Only against roofers and burglars,” said Jake.
“What makes you think the are burglars?” asked Dad.
“Because they took Mr Joseland’s clock and his teapot,” said Jake.
“Ah, come on!” said Dad.
But just then, two police cars with blue flashing lights skidded around the corner. Four officers jumped out and pounced on the burglars.
“Cawww!” said Birdy,” who had just landed on Jake’s window sill.
“Well done Birdy, you called the gulls and told them to catch the burglars.”
“Caw!”agreed the black feathered bird.
“Which is a lot more than Mum or Dad would do,” added Jake.
“Well,” said Dad, “well, err….” but he did not know what to say, so he sheepishly left Jake’s room and went to lie down. “Those gulls,” he muttered to himself. “Really aggressive. Who would have thought it?”
And that was the story of Bridy and the Seagulls.