My grandad never liked birds, in fact he hated them. It was a bit strange. No-one ever knew why, if any one asked him about it he’d say he just did.
Then last year, when I visited Bangkok, I took a trip out Kanchanaburi to see the bridge over the river Kwai. My grandad had been a prisoner of war and had worked on the railway, although on a different bit we think. He would never talk about it.
Anyway, there’s a little museum next to the bridge. It’s not a very big or impressive museum, there’s not much in it, and not all of what there is sounds historically accurate. But there’s a room that has some chapters of a book taped to the wall. The book is called Crosses and Tigers. It was written by a man called Nagase Katashi who, the museum information explained, was a Japanese commander in the Kanchanaburi prisoner of war camp who oversaw the building of that section of the railway. Apparently, after the war he was haunted by what he had done as a soldier, and had spent the rest of his life as a peace activist trying to atone for it.
The first passage of the book that I happened to start reading explained that the author hated vultures. He described how he arrived at the camp when he was first assigned there, and from a distance it looked as though there were dark clouds hanging over it. As he drew nearer he could see that the clouds were actually vultures.
Nagase said that the vultures were a permanent fixture at the camp. They used to be able to pick out which prisoners were going to die next and then follow them around, waiting for them to drop so that they could eat them. Now he couldn’t see a vulture without thinking of his time by the river Kwai.
This is how a trigger works.
Now it makes perfect sense that my grandad hated birds.