Bats in the Belfrey | Christian Talbot
Words: Christian Talbot
Bats in the Belfrey
As everyone is still going Batman mad, I thought I'd share the story of my own encounter with Batman. Not the "Bruce Wayne" Batman but County Down's very own Batman.
When we moved into our house about 6 years ago we discovered that the spaces under the roof tiles of the house were home to a small colony of bats. We knew this because we could hear scrabbling noises on the roof tiles in the upstairs rooms at night (birds don't fly at night) and because we could see them giving an aerial display around the house at dusk. At first we thought they were sparrows but noticed that they fly in a different way (bats flap their wings like blue blazes and don't really glide like birds). We could also hear them squeaking when they flew. Imagine what a mouse sounds like if it suddenly found itself a hundred feet in the air, had grown wings and was thinking to itself "Holy shit, I've grown wings and I'm in the sky". That's what a bat sounds like.
We really didn't know what to do about the bats. We were very naive and thought that perhaps they could do damage, that they might get into the house somehow or that they could spread disease. So we rang the local environmental agency and they told us that bats were very common in our area of Down. During the summer they roost in the roof tiles of houses to breed (Our house was therefore a knocking shop for flying rats) and that during the winter they hibernated in the local castle. Castle? Our roof could be temporary home to blood sucking vampire bats? Get them out! The woman from the agency assured me that there were no blood sucking vampire bats. At least not in our roof. She said by way of assurance, would we like her to send out the Batman. "The Batman? Hell yeah!", said I. Send the Batman this way. This I want to see.
I was very disappointed to find that the Batman did not turn up in a Batmobile. In fact it was a Renault Megane. He got out of the car and wasn't wearing a superhero suit of any kind. He was wearing jeans and Dunnes shirt. He wasn't Adam West, Michael Keaton or Christian Bale. He was just a fat, balding, middle-aged man from the council. I don't think I hid my disappointment that well but in fairness I think he was used to seeing this kind of disappointment.
So I showed him round the house and he explained that the bats were fine and that they are a protected species. We couldn't move them from the house, even if we wanted to. It would be illegal to disturb them. What we could do is wait for them to leave in the autumn and then block off where they were getting under the roof. But why would we want to? They were doing no damage and besides, wasn't it nice to say we had bats as visitors each summer? At this point his phone went off. It was an old Nokia phone and the ring tone was the "De de de de....de de de de Batman!" theme. As he answered it I noticed he had the Batman symbol as the background to his phone. I had to go inside and leave him to his phone call as I was going explode if I didn't laugh.
After his phone call we wandered round the house again and I pointed out the bat droppings around the place. I said that I had a 5-year-old daughter and I was worried she might catch something from them. He bent down and picked up one of the pellets from the ground and rolled it around between the tips of his fingers. I had just shook hands with this guy and here he was rolling bat shit around his fingers. He said that the bat droppings (or Guano, bat shit fans) were perfectly safe and contained nothing harmful at all. With that, he popped the pellet into his mouth and said "Look, perfectly safe".
I can't really remember what I said to him after that. There's not much to say when someone just casually eats some bat shit in front of you like it's a tic tac. Now everytime I heard the Batman theme tune I want to spit.
For the last 6 years we've been living with the bats perfectly well during the summer. They don't make much noise (unless they're at it...or at least I think that's what they're doing) and the aerial displays they give are always interesting. And they've never tried to fly down and tried to open up one of my veins. Not even once.
Christian performs at Anseo on Camden Street, Dublin on August 1st and the Bankers Bar, Dublin on August 4th.
Story by EI Team | 09:00 | Tuesday 24th July 2012 | Comedy
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