I’ve made two big decisions recently. One is I could do with a bath after all this flying about. Not covered this kind of mileage for years. The second one is a massive one – me and Mart are moving back to London. Brighton’s been fun and all that, but there really isn’t much to do down here apart from look at the sea and take the piss out of seagulls. Having spent so much time in The Smoke recently doing Pigeons Got Talent – more on that in a bit – I realised how much I missed the place. The smells, the sounds, throwaway on every corner, the bridges. To be honest, I can’t fucking wait.
We spent a few days up there last week. This is Mart posing in front of one of the ‘Don’t Feed The Pigeons’ signs on Trafalgar Square:
He asked me to take it as it’s become a must-have pic for the visiting pigeon. I did draw the line at him jumping in the air though.
The deciding moment came on Saturday when we squeezed in a game of Shit or Miss on the tourists in Piccadilly Circus. Not done that in years either. Good times.
So, now the decision’s been made, we just need to decide where to live… When we left London a few years ago, we were on a pucker ledge on Beak Street in Soho. Just looked it up in the archives and it was nine years ago we moved there. Mental.
This was what I wrote about our move day on March 7th 2006, which was pretty much when I first started Pigeon Blog.
Not sure if that particular ledge is available at the moment. Probably not. We may even want to find a quieter spot. Don’t know. Guess we’ll see when we get there.
So, onto PGT. We’ve decided to extend it another couple of weeks as the caliber of hopefuls appears to have gone somewhat downhill. We had a good run at first, but the last couple of auditions… Oh dear.
Here’s two examples. Let me introduce you to Dianne.
“Hi, what’s your name, where are you from, and what have you got for us today?” We said.
“My name’s Dianne, I come from Clapton and I’m dancing the Fandango.” She replied.
“Hi Dianne. That sounds interesting, but aren’t you supposed to have a partner?” I asked.
“I’m going to perform it solo.”
“Fair enough, Dianne. Off you go.”
Jesus. This was it. Literally. Left leg forward, left leg back, left leg forward, then back again, and with no music:
Seriously. Okay, so she had some rhythm, but considering the definition of Fandango is ‘a lively couples dance from Spain’, WTF?
Then along came William Shakespeare. I kid you not. He’d actually called himself William Shakespeare. Said he was going to be performing the opening monologue from Richard III. Know the one? ‘Now is the winter of our discontent made glorious summer by this son of York’. The really famous one that goes on for ages?
He tried it six times and didn’t get any further than ‘this son of York.’
Anyway, I think we’ve lined up a couple of good ones for next week, so watch this space. Fingers crossed we can wrap it up after that too. Mart and me have got some serious ledge hunting to do!
Seeing as I totally forgot to promote National Pigeon Appreciation Day due to the hectic schedule of the Pigeon’s Got Talent auditions, I decided we’d give it large after today’s round. We found ourselves outside Morning Crescent tube station. Originally we were only there to see Bob perform his supposedly splendid head-feather-disappearing act. To say it was a disappointment would be an understatement, although we didn’t say anything. All he did was put feathers on his head, and then take them off with his toe. One minute they’re on: The next, they’re not: Oh dear. Loved the serious face too. Hilarious. Still, at least he gave it a shot. Not quite up to the talents of Taupe – see post below. However, when we told him his audition coincided with National Pigeon Appreciation Day, he got well excited, as did all his mates. One by one they rocked up: Pretty good turn out, and they’re still arriving. Word is there’s some sort of a warehouse roof party going on in Camden. Good times. Of course a full report will follow, or what I can remember of it that is. In the meantime we’re off on the hunt for some spillages. This is Camden FFS. Got to be one somewhere. Bob reckons Camden Market is always a safe bet at this time of night. Here’s wishing all you pigeons a very happy National Pigeon Appreciation Day. Let me know what sort of badness you get up to this evening. Be safe, and party on!
It’s been a busy couple of weeks putting it mildly. Ever since Sally got in touch asking if I’d help her launch ‘Pigeon’s Got Talent 2015′ – see post below – we’ve been all over the place auditioning various entrants. Mart did a great job flying about spreading the word, so the response ended up being pretty good. Reason we missed the June 1st launch date was we got stuck in London when the weather turned to shit. Sally’s not a fan of flying in the rain so we hung out with pals under Waterloo Bridge, but now we’re back, the sun’s shining, and we’re raring to go.
Only thing we’re trying to work out is where’s best to hold the final… Some entrants aren’t keen on flying long distances, particularly those from London, so we may do it there. Not sure yet. Anyway, to kick it off, here are a couple of hopefuls.
First up, Olga from Stratford who put on a fine performance of some gymnastic moves culminating in a full one-leg-wing-stretch:
She held it for two and a half minutes. Impressive stuff.
Then we met another strong contender in Brighton. A group called ‘The Pigeon Ringers’ who performed their rendition of ‘Cry Me A River':
I’ll be posting and Tweeting more of them over the next couple of weeks. Let us know which ones you like. Also, if you happen to spot a pigeon with a particular talent, send me a pic. The final will be in July so there’s plenty of time.
Talking finals, I did happen to notice that the winner of this year’s Britain’s Got Talent was a dog, and a cheating dog at that. Couldn’t even walk the tightrope so he got his mate to do it. Outrageous. So, Simon Cowell, how about it? Give us pigeons a go next year. You’ve no excuse now.
I thought about it briefly back in 2011 when a giant pigeon jumped on Amanda Holden, one of the judges on ‘Britain’s Got Talent’. In fact, I went as far as emailing Simon Cowell suggesting pigeons should be allowed to enter the show, but he never got back to me despite me telling him all about the amazing ‘Pall Mall Collective’. Remember them? The pigeons that did mime? Anyway, thanks to the hard work of a pigeon called Sally, the concept has reached a whole new level: Saturday 6th June 2015 sees the launch of ‘Pigeon’s Got Talent’!
Bring it on.
Sally used to be a dancer back in the day until she suffered a mild dose of toe rot and had to give it all up. This is her on the right during rehearsals with ex-dance partner, Jacques:
Love to have seen them in action.
Best bit about it is she’s asked me to help organise it as well as be one of the judges. Kid you not. Of course, I said yes. Mart wanted to get involved so I told him the most helpful thing he could do would be to spread the word. Get it out there in the pigeon community. We’re hoping to attract pigeons from all over the country, so any of you out there fancy showing your wares, let me know! We’re looking for pigeons with any sort of talent. Literally, anything at all that you think you can do better than the rest. We’ve already got the support of Martyn (below) who has held the record for the longest ever leg stand since 2012.
Two days, seven hours, twenty seven minutes and six seconds. Amazing stuff.
Currently we’re thinking of hosting it in Brighton, possibly using this as the stage:
It’s just outside the Town Hall. However, if we get enough interest around the country we’re equally up for a roadshow. We’ll see.
Exciting times, and big thanks to Sally for asking me to get involved.
So, you might wonder where I’ve been the past few weeks. Slough. Kid you not. For those of you who have never heard of it, if you look at the link you’ll see why. Its biggest claim to fame is a massive industrial estate. It’s a pretty dreadful place, but Mart and me used to hang out there back in the day so we thought it would be nice to take a fly down the memory highway, otherwise known as the M4. Turned out to be a total shlep from Brighton, and then still a right shithole when we got there. Okay, so they’ve done a bit of urban regeneration, but it hasn’t made much difference. It’s still as grey and concrete as it always was, just with a massive Tescos where the bus station used to be. One of the best things about Slough back in the day was the Greyhound stadium, and even that’s gone. I remember playing Shit or Miss on the racing greyhounds like it was yesterday.
Course we ticked all the tourist boxes. We visited the Jubilee River, walked around a bit on the turrets of Windsor Castle, tucked into some splendid throwaway at the back of Akash Tandori on Burnham High Street, as good as ever. Check out the reviews if you don’t believe me. Best bit of peshwari I’ve ever had.
Sadly, one of the hightlights was going to be a beer festival at the The Royal Standard in Woburn Green, so we went up there only to find out it’s this weekend. Real shame too as beer festivals are always a winner. Just wander about under the barrels with the beak open. Carnage guaranteed. Oh well.
Then Mart suggested visiting Dorney Court’s recently re-furbed outdoor eating area, so we headed over in the sunshine, and suddenly our holiday took a whole new turn for the better. Soon as we got there, the crumbs were flying with seemingly little objection coming from any of the punters, mainly because we remained at ground level. I don’t get why any pigeon would go straight for the table. It’s always going to end in tears.
Then, to top it all, we met Frieda. Frieda is a chicken, which is unfortunate as I have to confess I found her rather attractive. She was also one of the funniest chickens I’d ever met. In fact I’d go as far as to say one of the funniest birds I’ve ever met, and I’ve met some funny birds.
This is Frieda:
Our first conversation was on the more serious note of life behind wire. I’d always wondered what chickens made of it, so I asked her.
“Know what?” She said, “It’s how it’s always been, and if it means I’m not going to be ending my days in some fox’s gob, I’m happy!” I got her point.
“What do you call a fox with a carrot in each ear? Whatever you like. He can’t hear you!” She said.
It wasn’t a particularly funny joke, but it was the way she told it. Everyone fell apart.
Then I asked her if she’d ever consider escaping and maybe paying Brighton a visit..?
“Not fucking likely. Not sure I can even remember how to fly!” She said.
Oh well. I’ll take that as a no then. I’ll definitely pay her another visit if ever I head out to Slough again. So – we’re back in Brighton now in time for the festival to kick off. The sun is shining and the tourists are pouring in. Bring on the summer. The throwaways, Shit or Miss on the seafront, National Pigeon Day celebrations – yes, there will be one, even if it’s just for the party. Any pigeons out there thinking of coming down to the seaside, now’s the time to do it.
Just had a massive argument with a seagull who reckoned it was fair game that pigeons didn’t make the shortlist for Britain’s National Bird whereas seagulls should definitely have been on there. I held my own but walked away thinking, actually, it is an outrage. We should both be on there.
Voting is taking place as we speak on the following top ten birds:
1. Mute Swan – can’t even speak.
2. Red Kite – scared of buildings.
3. Hen Harrier – never heard of them.
4. Puffin – WTF? How many puffins do you see hanging about in your local park?
5. Barn Owl – only comes out at night.
6, 7, 8. Kingfisher / Wren / Robin – all way too small. Pointless.
9. Blackbird – Fair play. The only one I think deserves to be on the list.
10. Blue Tit – Really?
And not a pigeon in sight. Considering the number of us around, I’d say not even getting a mention is a massive mistake and, frankly, disappointing, particularly considering the huge effort we’ve made over recent years towards engaging in a meaningful way with local communities. According to the BBC, the robin is an early favourite. Robins are already quite hard to stomach. Becoming Britain’s National Bird would make them fucking unbearable. You can read more about it here.
I hit the streets earlier to canvass a few opinions. Of course, it was no surprise that every pigeon I spoke to was as upset about it as I am.
This is Sid. Sid has joined me on a number of campaigns in the past including the G20 Fly-by back in the day:
To say he was angry would be an understatement.
“I can’t bloody believe puffins are on the list, and we’re not. It’s crazy, man! I mean, look at us. We’re everywhere. Ever met a puffin? Nah. Thought not, and as for a bird that only comes out at night. What’s the point in that?”
He did go on to say that he was equally as surprised that neither the magpie nor the sparrow made the list either. I agreed with him.
So, there it is. A bit late now but, assuming this is an annual thing, I’m hoping the Urban Birder who organised the whole gig will do the right thing by ensuring we’re on that list next time. Put it this way, if he doesn’t, watch this space.
Spring is most definitely in the air. The sun is out and pigeons everywhere are going for it, big time. It’s the same every year. Suddenly, overnight, every pigeon is only after one thing, and it has nothing to do with food.
This was the scene earlier today down near the seagull spa by the Pavillion:
Jesus. No shame whatsoever.
Having never been a fan of the blatant public display, I decided to ask some questions. Mainly I was interested in why it was he didn’t take her back to his ledge.
This is Gary. Unlike most pigeons, Gary still likes to play the field:
“I find being with the same pigeon day after day really dull. They move onto the ledge and the next thing you know they’re plucking shit from your tail feathers. I’d rather throw it about a bit. It’s more interesting that way. Bit of variety.”
I asked him whether it was the idea of commitment that put him off.
“No. If I met a pigeon I could settle down with, great, it’s just I enjoy the variety, and I think the variety enjoys me. Not being big-headed but there’s no shortage out there these days of single pigeons looking for a good time.”
I was shocked by his last statement. Okay, so I’ve spent more time in the last ten years hanging out with a pigeon called Mart whilst mastering the Internet than I have looking for a shag, but I do know it’s not that easy to find one. There was a pigeon called Mary once, and a duck called Pam, but that’s another story. Since then, not much at all apart from the odd sniff, but I don’t regret it. However I do find the increase in public displays of single shagging a bit worrying. It can only lead to more bad publicity.
Soho Square it is where it’s at for the single shaggers. Always has been. These two turn up year after year so they can get it on in public with whoever will have them, and they usually end up with eachother:
George P Phillips below is staunchly against this kind of public display of random affection:
“I find it utterly revolting and totally unnecessary.” He said. “As soon as Spring comes along, pigeons these days think it’s fine to jump on top of anything they see regardless of any potential long term relationship. It’s simply not on, and I believe it’s sending out a very bad message to the younger pigeons out there. Pigeons should find a partner and mate for life and anything in between is, frankly, abhorant.”
But what about the pigeons that don’t mate for life? Or those that don’t appear to mate at all, like me? Well if there’s one thing I’ve learned along the rocky road of being a blogging pigeon for ten years, it’s live and let live. If you find a life partner, great, if not, go where the urge takes you, but maybe consider going somewhere a little more private.
It’s been a couple of weeks since my last post and that’s not because I haven’t been busy, I have. In fact I’ve hardly had a moment to catch my breath it’s been that much fun. Okay, so that’s not strictly true. You see, for a pigeon, this time of year really is dull as fuck. The tourists have gone, the weather is rubbish (or it is over here), and there’s shit all to do apart from hang around on grassy corners waiting for a half decent hand out.
In January pigeons tend to suffer from a general sense of humour bypass largely due to prolonged periods of extreme boredom:
Then, even when something interesting does happen like a mad woman turning up with loads of free seed to give away, the chavs arrive. By chavs I mean the greedy fuckers that don’t have any manners. The ones that stick their dirty wings in your face and expect you to leave them there. FFS. I thought it was bad in London, but it’s rude down here, probably because most of them don’t really know what getting it tough is all about. Coming from London, and having lived through the seed ban, I know what scrabbling around for a sesame feels like. I even organised a campaign about it back in 2006 called Give Pigeons A Chance around the time it was also discovered pigeons couldn’t get bird flu.
This is the mad lady that turned up in Queen’s Park ready to hand out a few bits and pieces. Within seconds she was surrounded. Couldn’t get anywhere near so we gave up in the end:
Unbelievable. Coming in from all angles they were.
Talking unbelievable, next year I’ll have been telling it how it is for pigeons everywhere for ten whole years. Ten fucking years, would you believe? How time flies, literally.
Have to say, the internet is the best thing that ever happened to pigeons, I’m just surprised more haven’t given it a go. It’s so much easier now too what with touchscreen and the like. Back in the day there was no such thing, and it’s not that long ago. I had to hammer out each key with my fucking toes. If you’ve seen that film Whiplash, from all accounts you’ll know what I mean. I’m talking blood, sores and welts that lasted for days. That’s how hard it was. Imagine the effort involved in a capital letter? Took me months to get anywhere near, and now it happens automatically. Start of a sentence and, bang, there it is. Perfect. One touch of the beak and it’s there.
So, back to now and here’s hoping something proper interesting happens soon. Maybe snow?
Brilliant laugh, and I bet Brighton’s got some neat sledging spots. Mart’ll be made up. He even came up with an idea for a sledge a couple of years back. One of the few good ideas he’s ever had. May even go get us one so we can have it standing by.
New Year’s Eve turned out to be exactly the mellow affair we’d been after. Good company and a quiet night courtesy of Nigel and Maureen on their roof – see post below. They’d even managed to score some cheese. Hadn’t had cheese in ages, so we did all that and then watched the fireworks go off from what is probably the best view in Brighton. It even stayed dry for once. The only snag with cheese before sleep is the dreams. Jesus. I’d forgotten about the cheesy dreams! Of course Mart’s included some sort of superhero action where he saved a Llama in distress from a cliff top in Peru. Mine, on the other hand, was just fucking weird. It included riding a sausage dog on Brighton beach and living in a large wholemeal baguette called Simon. WTF? I can still smell its doughy interior. Mental.
After that Mart and me spent the weekend lugging our Christmas decoration to the bin. We had to do it in several stages due to its awkward shape and size. On the odd year we have managed to find one, it’s always sad when we take it away. One minute there it is on our ledge all shiny and proud, the next it’s sat next to a dirty old bin. I’ve never honoured one with a photo, but somehow, colour aside, this one was kind of special:
So, onto 2015. Forget the Year of the Goat, this year, apparently, is the year of austerity. The year when no-one has anything at all. Scary stuff, especially for us pigeons who don’t have much to start off with. Less food to go round equals less food getting chucked equals less decent throwaway. Not good. I’ve been interviewing a few locals this week to see what they think about the whole austerity thing. One of them told me to get down to Jubilee Square, so I did, and this is what I found. Some dude standing very still in front of a sign saying ‘Temptation @ Jubilee Library':
Eh? I’ve no idea what the sign is doing there, but what I did find out is the local pigeon community has decided to use it as a frontage for what they’re calling ‘The Brighton Austerity Meditation Centre’. I asked one of them what their name was and what it was all about.
He said his name was Pigeon Purna:
“My name is Pigeon Purna. Purna means full and complete, because I am full and complete. That is what lies at the heart of the Brighton Austerity Meditation Centre.” I instantly regretted asking him, but he went on anyway. “The Meditation Centre is a place where pigeons can come to learn, and practice, the art of saying ‘No thank you. I don’t need it right now’. Most pigeons find it hard to resist anything they see on the ground. We’re trying to teach them to stand aside and perhaps let another pigeon who needs it more have whatever it is. It’s really about learning to share, and that food is not everything.”
Yeah, right, and that’s coming from a pigeon whose name sounds like an Indian takeaway dish. Try telling your average pigeon food isn’t everything. I asked him how it worked.
“It works through a simple meditation. Sometimes we do a chant, but more often it’s just standing still in front of The Instruction, focusing on the breathing, clearing the mind and taking ourselves to a place where food means nothing at all.”
This group were at it when I was speaking to him:
That said, I do get it in principle. Not jumping on every piece of shit you see would be a useful tool. I could certainly have done with it the day I ate the first piece of shit I saw only to discover it was actual shit. The thought of it still makes me gag. I think meditating on it might be a bit over the top though. Not sure I could do it. Standing still for even thirty seconds make me queasy. Don’t think I could do five if I was hungry, but I guess it if works for them, although clearly not for everyone. I caught this dude waddling away after giving it a go:
There’s no denying 2015 is going to be tough, but we’re ready. Even Mart and me have stockpiled a few emergency crispy crusts that are maturing nicely in a secret store ‘somewhere near Shoreham’.
Happy New Year again, everyone, and a big up to 2015.
Those of you who got my Tweet will already know that Christmas this year ended up in a bit of a drunken blur, and a hangover that lasted for days. Jesus. Still not sure I’m walking straight. This is the story of how it happened.
After a quiet one on Christmas eve, Mart and I decided to go along to to Mike and Jeff’s Christmas Show on the seafront.
Rumour was they were going to do Aladdin. Thank fuck they didn’t. They really were unbelievably bad, and things only got worse when they started the dance routines. We were desperate to escape but seeing as not that many of us had turned up and we were right at the front, we had to stay.
Anyway, about half way through Mart spotted what looked like quite a large puddle of lager. This time last year it was pissing down so all the potential lager spillages turned out to be water, but not this time. Still don’t know what it was, but it tasted pretty fresh, and we were off. The day went mental. Flew into town for something to eat. Didn’t find anything, so went back to the puddle. Things were bound to get messy, which they did.
And there we stayed till the sun went down. Even Mike and Jeff joined in once they’d finished warbling. Staggering all over the place we were. The end result of it all was three days on a balcony in recovery. Good times.
So, there it is. Another year blows by, and what a year it’s been including serial killer seagulls in Hyde Park. As always I got to meet some great characters too including Charles, the resolutely single magpie and Thomas and Phil the gay seagulls, and of course not forgetting the St Ives Collective.
And then, to top it all, there was the launch of the genius game I’m mentioned in called Hatoful Boyfriend.
So, 2015, bring it on. Believe it or not, year after next I’ll have been telling it how it is for pigeons everywhere for ten years. How time flies, literally, so next year could be pretty special. Here’s hoping. For now, seeing as I’m probably still well over the limit after Christmas Mart and Me are having a quiet one tonight. We’ve been invited to join Nigel and Maureen on their roof. This was us at a party there a few weeks ago:
Great sea view plus it’s really near to our ledge so we don’t have to fly far. By avoiding the annual carnage, I might actually be able to do something on New Year’s Day for once. You never know.
Happy New Year everyone. Here’s to a rocking 2015.
For years I’ve been campaigning for the Chinese to honour the pigeon in their New Year’s list. Our exclusion baffles me. They’ve got everything from a tiger to a dragon. It’s not even like they’ve given feathers in general the swerve, there’s a rooster in there too. A fucking rooster? WTF? If you believe in that whole Noah thing, without one of us carrying that twig there would be no Chinese. Surely that deserves a nod? What has a rooster ever done for mankind other than make a loud irritating noise when everyone is trying to sleep. Us pigeons don’t join in the dawn chorus because we know that not everyone likes to be awake before daylight, including us I might add.
I first started looking into our exclusion in 2007 when I discovered it was the year of the pig. You can read what I thought about it here. Safe to say, I wasn’t impressed.
Then, in 2011, it was year of the rabbit. I researched this one to find out why a rabbit? I figured they must have done something to earn it. Saved a load of orphaned children from a burning building, maybe? Anything, but no. The best I could find is they can purr like a cat when happy. You can read what I thought about that one here.
2015 has been the year of the sheep, so what next? To my horror, on Feb 19th 2015 we enter year of the goat. Surely not. Okay, goats can climb trees which is pretty clever considering what they’ve got on their feet, but really? Mart did point out they make nice cheese too, which is true, but still.
We figured it was time to take action so while I was in London last week furthering my investigations into the serial killer seagull (or gulls, which is the latest theory), I popped into Chinatown with a couple of old mates. I even got Doug involved. I used to hang out with Doug a lot back in the day. Doug used to be partial to doing impersonations. Click here to see him doing a totally out-of-order one of Heather Mills when she was with McCartney.
Anyway, this is what happened. Please excuse the quality of the photography. Mart took them.
We figured the best route to inclusion on the list would be a sit in. Go into somewhere Chinese and stay there till they give us a year. At the very least we’d get noticed.
As soon as we arrived we spotted an open door heading straight into a packed restaurant. Perfect:
I should point out it was one that proudly advertised crispy duck, another bird that doesn’t get a year despite its food-based sacrifice on a daily basis:
No fucking justice.
I told Doug to go for it, so we did. Soon as we got through the door, this massive foot comes our way. Kid you not, it was huge, so we did a runner, shitting ourselves:
And we kept running, just in case:
Pissed ourselves afterwards, but have also realised we may need a slightly different approach if we want to appear on a Chinese calender any time soon.
Any suggestions welcome.
What an eventful couple of weeks. Mart and I flew to Hyde Park in the pissing rain after another dead skin-less pigeon was found under a pile of leaves. Looked like it could have been there for a while, apparently. The only means of identifying it was by the shape of its toes. Scary shit.
Of course Mart was off straight away pursuing any clues he came across. Basically a pile of random objects including an empty Fanta can, a tooth pick (that he suggested might be the murder weapon!), and a Snickers wrapper. Oh dear. Then a squirrel told him a gull behaving suspiciously had been spotted going in and out of Big Ben. He said the ‘gull in question’ was always there at midday. Of course there wasn’t any ‘gull in question’ but Mart sat under the bell anyway just in case one turned up, and then went deaf for three days.
“All in the line of duty.” He shouted when he got back. Jesus.
In the meantime, during my own investigations into the serial killer gull, I came across another story that I thought would strike a chord for hundreds of pigeons. Racism against white pigeons because they look a little bit like seagulls. WTF?
I met Nancy. Nancy is a white pigeon who lives on the roof of a laundrette in Pimlico and has spent her whole life working in Hyde Park. She told me that ever since the story went national, she’s been getting the cold shoulder and racist comments from her fellow pigeons.
Okay, so Nancy’s white, but she looks nothing like a seagull. Not even slightly:
It’s got so bad recently that she has to eat in private:
Crazy shit. A beautiful pigeon like Nancy eating alone?
Then I heard it for myself:
“Oi. Whiteeee. Show us your white bits!” The one at the back said. Not on.
Pigeons come in all shapes and sizes and versions of grey. It’s got to stop. White pigeons are nothing like seagulls. They can’t even swim!
I told Nancy I’d see her again next week when I go back. Apparently there’s a seagull who’s willing to talk. Says he’s got some information for me.
Bring it on.
Finally made it back to Brighton thanks to Hurricane Gonzalez. Battling against 100mph winds wasn’t something I was in the mood for after spending four days undercover in Hyde Park investigating a serial killer seagull. For those of you who haven’t caught up yet, I tweeted about it last week as soon as I heard.
This is the story, and this is me working undercover:
Jesus. What a week.
The atmosphere when I arrived was tense to say the least. Pigeons all over the park were extremely concerned they might be next.
No one has any idea which seagull might be responsible, so the threat level has now been raised to Red – the most severe ever – and the pigeon community living and working in Hyde Park is, rightly, very scared indeed.
“It’s terrible.” One said. “We’re all terrified. There’s even been talk that there are pigeons involved. Pigeons kidnapping pigeons, not that I believe it, but some do. Everyone is suspicious of everyone and no one wants to make eye contact anymore. It’s making Hyde Park a really uncomfortable and unpleasant place to work.”
It’s true. Even I noticed it. Pigeons going out of their way to avoid eachother. Something I’ve not seen happen since the bird flu scare back in 2006.
Even though pigeons have been disappearing for five years, the discovery of skinned corpses is a relatively recent thing. Whichever seagull is responsible has developed a taste for blood, which makes the situation even more worrying. During my stay there, three pigeons went missing.
I asked Colin from East Dulwich what he made of it all.
He said the pigeons who lived and worked in Hyde Park were becoming increasingly angry at the lack of action and that something needed to be done, and fast.
“It’s just not safe here anymore, not for anyone.” He went on. “The rising tension is going to ignite any minute. Already a few fights have broken out. Let’s face it, it’s never been particularly harmonious between us and the gulls, but I’ve never seen it this bad. Someone needs to get down here and start looking into who or what is responsible, but nothing like that seems to be happening and we’re just being left to fend for ourselves.”
I asked him why more pigeons hadn’t left the park.
“Oh, they have.” He said. “Lots, but you wouldn’t believe the number of bloody tourists arriving. Since the story went national, pigeons from all over want to come here hoping to catch a glimpse of Gull the Ripper. That’s what they’re calling him. Of course they don’t stay for long and leave well before it gets dark!”
He wasn’t wrong. Literally a few minutes after talking to him I bumped into a group of pigeons who’d flown down from Wigan on an organised tour. They were part of some crime club looking for clues. Couldn’t make it up.
Unbelievable. Still, at least they were trying to help I guess.
So, there it is. The horror in Hyde Park is unfolding on a daily basis. I’ve decided to go back next week to check up on the latest investigations, if there are any that is. At the very least I’m hoping I can raise awareness of their plight.
Mart’s going to come with me this time. Of course he’s wetting himself at the thought of us becoming Pigeon Detectives. He said he wants a monocle and everything. I told him a cape was definitely a step too far.
I touched on this one years ago. The myth that single magpies are unlucky. The truth is they’re absolutely not. In fact most of them are confirmed bachelors, and proud of it, as I discovered when I went to talk to a magpie I met last week called Charles.
Charles lives alone in Sheepcote Valley, and he wouldn’t have it any other way:
I asked him what made him decide to go it alone.
“Well, I had a couple of somewhat awkward experiences with females.” He said. “One called Lucy who liked to do things. Unpleasant things that I often found painful. I put up with it for two years until I finally decided I didn’t want to be sore anymore. Then the next one, Sarah. She was totally the opposite. She just followed me around all day. Everywhere I went, there she’d be just staring at me not saying anything. We really didn’t have much in common either, so now I’m on my own and it suits me down to the ground. I can do what I want. Go where I want. If sitting up there and staring out to sea is the order of the day…” He gestures with his slightly grubby beak to a tall lamp post behind us. “No-one is going to stop me. It’s a way of life that works, for me anyway. Of course it’s not for everyone, but there are a few of us happy singles living up here.”
I didn’t quite know how to frame the next question, so I asked him as politely as possible whether he’d ever tempted to ‘fly for the other side’?
“Good God no. That’s not for me at all. I mean there’s nothing wrong with it of course. Each to their own, and I have plenty of friends who do that kind of thing, but no. I’m really very happy on my own and intend absolutely for it to stay that way.”
Then he told me that every Wednesday a group of them meet up near the racecourse, and invited me to join him at the next one.
“Sometimes we fly about a bit, or we just sit and chat. Depends on the weather. A couple of them are into chess, but that’s not me either. Clearly not everyone is as content with the single life as I am, like David. He’s nice enough, but I’m not sure he’s single out of choice, if you know what I mean.”
So, that’s that. Single magpies are unlucky and a bad omen is a load of old bollocks. They’re on their own out of choice. Fact, and those that aren’t are probably best left alone, as I’m sure I’ll find out when I meet David on Wednesday!
I happened to be in Shoreham today, so I asked a seagull what he thought about the the vote for Scottish independence. He said he had no opinion either way. Typical. The only thing he was interested in was how it was going to be cut off if the vote was in favour. I said I didn’t think the plan was to physically slice it off so it could set sail for the North Pole. Twat. Then I asked a pigeon on the street who replied, “What’s Scotland?”
So there you go. Ignorance all round in the Brighton bird world, then again I guess it is quite far away. Personally I’m very interested in what will happen to the pigeons of Scotland if they chose to go it alone. Will they need passports to cross the border? Do they even get a vote? Course not. We never do.
I did try to get in touch with my old pal, Murray, but apparently he went underground after Andy Murray lost at Wimbledon and hasn’t been seen since.
Thankfully, another Scots pigeon got in touch. A reporter based in Glasgow called Neil. Not only did he go out on the streets to see what the pigeons of Glasgow thought, he sent me a report including a hilarious conversation he overheard between two pigeons.
This is Neil working undercover. Genius:
Good work. Nice one, Neil!
This is what he sent me:
“Hi Brian – quick wee note from the North. Thought you might be interested in the crack from George Square over the wee vote on Thursday. Wee vote … aye that’ll be right. Great big huge fuckin’ disruptive vote would be more like it. For those of us who spend our lives waddling round George Square posing for the tourists and generally keeping the traffic going, it has been quite a summer. First, the place was full of tourists for the Commonwealth Games – noisy or what! Not a seat to be had in the whole City – found a peaceful spot on the top of Walter Scott and just watched the world go round … and round … and round. Turned out it was the cycling speed trials! Still, life got a bit quieter when the tent went down and the big G was moved. Big G? Yeah, that was the big logo for the Games – actually it was quite nice. Loads of kids came to have their photos taken, dropping loads of chips. Became quite a meeting place for us pigeons – dinner at Gs! Then after they left the whole Indyref thing got going. Once again the peace of George Square was shattered by a load of flag waving demonstrators with Yes and No flapping in the wind in equal measure. What’s the chat? Well I was happily dozing on Queen Vic’s crown yesterday when I overheard this. I had to send it to you. Kind of says it all:
“You awrite Davey boy?”
“Alright, Wullie? Aye, man, I’m good. How about yourself?”
“Just nabbed some sucker’s fries right out his hand, so, yeah, I’m good.”
“’Ere, have you heard of the Indyref stuff?”
“Who hasny? It’s all over the bloody place. TV, post, even just doon the road in George Square. I’ve got a friend who went down there. Said the whole place was fucking packed with people watching some bloke called Cameron pulling his hair out over the fact that we’re splitting. Said the bald patch looked would have made a great target if only he could have got close enough.”
“We might be splitting, we don’t know. We’ll just have to wait an’ see what the vote says.”
“Aye, we will. Either way, I’m all for Scotland being independent. What about you, mate? Which way would you vote if we got a say in it?”
“Oh, aye, I’d vote Naw for sure.”
“Oh, aye? Why’s that?”
“Well, to be completely honest, man, I just don’t see Scotland surviving on its own. Apparently, we aren’t even gonna get our own currants!”
“Whit? Scotland will no be allowed our own currants?”
“Nope. All the currants get sent up from England, so it’s the English currant.”
“I dunnae get it. We make oor own currants too!”
“Yeah, but the factory’s gonna move South if we break up…”
“Why would it do that?”
“Aw whit do you know? Youse are fae Paisley!”
So as you see Brian, the Nation appears to be as split as the currants! Just hoping we get one final demonstration on Friday cos the pickings are always great afterwards. Will let you know whose flag is flapping on that day!!! I’ll fly around the city tomorrow when the vote is on and see what’s going down. Could be carnage. I did a ledge to ledge the other day and noticed ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ stickers stuck to loads of windows, some even on the same house!”
Cheers Neil. Top job. Look forward to an update and maybe some more pics if you get a chance.
Watch this space.