My name is Steve and I'm socially inept because of birding.
"Thank you for coming this evening Steve and sharing that with us. Would you like to tell us when you first realised this?"
It really began when I was at art college. My fellow students would meet up at weekends, go to concerts, have all-day benders in back-street pubs. They might even try some, well, illicit substances. Oh, and there was that other pleasure that I hadn't tried yet - something that involved women...
"Do you mean sex Steve?"
Er- yes. Well, I didn't have time for any of that really, because if I'd gone out and done all of those things during a weekend, I would have missed out at what was happening at Beddington Sewage Farm!
"Please, will some of you at the back stop sniggering. Steve is being very honest here. Please carry on..."
I couldn't miss a weekend birding. Especially if we went to Dungeness or Pagham Harbour. Or on a twitch...
"You said 'we'. Were there other people involved?"
Yes, there were. My birding friends.
"Were they all men?"
"Did they have girlfriends? Did they all dress the same and smell as if they had spent two days in a car, not washing and just eating Mars Bars? Did they see other people who weren't birdwatchers?"
No. Yes, I mean... no, not really. Anyway, petrol stations only sold Mars Bars or crisps, and it was cheaper to doss in the car than get a B&B. One of them was married actually, although thinking about it he got divorced. Missed his wedding anniversary because he was at the St.Nicholas-at-Wade Great Bustard in 1978. Then took her to Scillies for a two week holiday the following October. She caught a chopper back to the mainland after three days...
"Weren't you interested in other things apart from birds?"
Well I was, but I sort of got sucked into birding further and further. After a while it defined me. And I had lists...
Yes, loads of them, lists of birds for places I'd been, months and years in which I'd seen them. And others.
I'd rather not say.
"Your're with friends here Steve, we hide no secrets from each other."
OK. I had lists of birds mating. Birds defecating. Birds seen while I was having a slash. Birds seen while..
"Er, that's enough I think, we get the picture. And you prefered all of this to getting pissed, getting stoned, getting laid and cultivating a wide spectrum of friends?"
"I would normally suggest shock theapy involving high-voltage bursts whilst looking at immature gulls, or being spanked with a copy of Birding World by a man dressed as Bill Oddie as you watch a Paul Doherty DVD, but to be honest Steve you are beyond help. May I suggest that you take up something less socially inept and acceptable. Like Morris Dancing?"
Can I look at moths instead?