Bringing up Benzene: Charlie Gilmour adopts a magpie

One day a baby bird falls from its nest into an oily scrapyard in Bermondsey, south London and seems unlikely to survive. As the writer Charlie Gilmour and his set-designer fiancée Janina (Yana) find themselves scrutinised by the tiny creature’s ‘gemstone eyes’ they become caught up in an unexpected urge to save the fledgling’s life. As part of the unglamorous, much maligned, even feared Corvid species, Charlie’s foundling magpie, with its sinister ‘undertaker tails’ is not an obvious pet. And yet Charlie has ‘never felt so seen by an animal’. Growing out of this strange first encounter is a magical book of exhilarating complexity, the story of blood, bird shit,