The car park for Northcote Plaza is strange for two main reasons. Firstly, it's kind of convoluted. It twists and turns, is narrow where it shouldn't be, and is kind of wide where it's perhaps entirely unnecessary. The second reasons is in regards to the birds. You won't notice this during the day but if, as I have, you ever wander through there between 12am and 6am, you will notice there is an absolute cacophony of bird noise. I'm not talking a pleasant kind of lulling sound, the likes of which might allow you to fall asleep, I'm talking Supreme Racket. The kind of sound that makes you imagine the birds all have cruel faces, all gathered around some limp and dying bird, as they all caw-caw caw-caw for this dying birds head...or beak or something (I don't know what symbolic piece of the body bird's would call for if they were calling for death).
The reason this is interesting is that the bird song starts well before birds are meant to wake up which, as far as I know, is anywhere between 4.30am and 6isham. So if you wander through there in the middle of the god damn witching hour, there is this absolute god damn racket. It's very disorientating, firstly because you're usually unsure of what time it is in the first place, and secondly it causes a sort of despair (in the like 'omfg i have to get up in like two hours' sense). In short, it makes it seem much later than it actually is. I had a huge panic attack the last time, thinking I had been out all night, and knowing I had work the next day, only to discover it was in fact 12.30.
Why, then, do these birds start making the ruckus so god damn early? I pondered this for a while, occasionally making side trips late at night to ride or walk slowly through the car park, trying to figure it out. (For those who want an insight into the mind of James Kent, this is the kind of shit that preoccupies me for a large part of the day.). The answer came to me suddenly one night a few months ago, as I stared up into this tree, the sound of babbling birds literally making it appear the tree had some kind of schizophrenic awareness and was screaming at the world. The lights used in the carpark are exactly the tinge of what I want to call 'dawn' gold. Since there are a lot of them, the whole car park is bathed in this kind-of-but-not-quite pre-dawn glow. Basically, the birds think it's dawn before it actually is.
No shit Sherlock. I felt immensely clever for figuring this out, but also a little saddened that the answer was so glaringly obvious. I was also secretly shattered that there was no evidence for some sort of bird witch craft going on in the car park. You know, X-Files styles.
So kind of smug but sad I pushed on, glad that I could throw my proverbial tie behind my back and comment to no one on particular that this was, indeed, the end of that particular chapter.
It was only a little later that the horror of the bird's situation became clear. Imagine starting up the pre-dawn party a good six hours before it actually arrives. Not only that, but due to what I can only assume is one of the more primal birdy instincts, they don't seem to be able to over-ride or learn that, in their particular environment, golden glows do not mean the arrival of dawn.
The only human equivalent I could think of is that incredibly tense but happy time you undergo in the five to ten minutes before your favourite band comes on stage. There's that butterflies in the stomach feeling, the impatience, the wondering whether you should pee, the adrenaline caused by knowing that particularly burly man next to you is surely going to cause all kinds of hell to your kidneys at some point. But then the band comes on and you lose your shit and carry on with your shirt of in a very male-look-at-me display. The closest I can think of (carrying on with the clunky analogy) to when this experience turned into the birds at Northcote plaza experience, is when I saw Slayer in 2009. (By way of backstory I should detail that the cleches are in fact true. Prior to this show I got madly inebriated, walked to festival hall in a large band of long haired louts, screaming Slayer at any passer by that looked like they would not retaliate. It was awesome.) Slayer didn't come on for ages, even after Megadeth cleared the fuck out, and the stage went dark and the tell tale screams of SLLAAAYYYEEERRRRR from big fat drunk men got louder (a key sign that Kerry King is at least, you know, within earshot). I was inebriated and excited and feeling aggressive and just wanted to fucking crowd surf already, but there was no sign of the band appearing. Tensions mounted and some Megadeth v. Slayer scuffles broke out, proving of course that no one here was in anyway remotely interested in Fugazi. At that point, come to think of it, neither was I. Once the band finally did emerge, perhaps in one of the most unpleasant shocks of my life, Tom had lost his voice, and proceeded to indulge us all in a very expensive, very bad karaoke session. I suppose, in terms of the birds, that's the equivalent of the dawn finally coming and it's raining acid or something.
Piss take human analogy notwithstanding, I am quietly kind of horrified at the purgatory I now feel sure these Northcote Plaza birds live in.
Bird experts please feel free to correct me if I am unjustified in attributing absolute moral and existential despair to the birds of Northcote Plaza.