Dick Dastardley had the right idea, pigeons really are a pain in the arse. Had Dick lived to the present day (and not died of syphilis in 1978 after an ill-advised tryst with Wacky Races harlot, Penelope Pittstop) he would have found a more sympathetic public ear for his pigeon-loathing views. Unfortunately for Dick, his gargoyle looks and sinister laugh never made him the most sympathetic of characters and most viewers took the side of his arch-nemesis, the Yankee Doodle Pigeon. But not me.
I’ve hated pigeons for as long as I’ve had the ability to hate. Perhaps this is down to some long suppressed traumatic childhood incident involving one of the little bastards and an ice cream or something, but whatever the root of my hate, there isn’t a day that goes by where it doesn’t feel justified.
We’re all familiar with the description of ‘flying rats’ and it’s well merited. I once heard Stephen Fry claim on an episode of QI that pigeons don’t actually carry any disease at all, but a quick internet investigation reveals they carry up to 60 different diseases in their faeces alone! Clearly Fry has an agenda, for not only do pigeons carry multiple diseases, they are, in fact, more harmful than rats.
After missing a flight home some years ago, I was left in a particularly dire situation. With my first day in a new job less than 24 hours away, I found myself standing on an Alicante street corner, shirt sticking to my back, pondering both how I was going to get home and where I was going to lay my head for the night. Things, I assumed, couldn’t get any worse. I had assumed wrong. Showing a remarkable ability to seek out the most screwed individual in the bustling tourist town, one of Satan’s little mascots duly took aim and opened his sphincter. Suddenly I was transformed from a sorry, sweat-soaked homeless bloke with no way home to a sorry, sweat-soaked homeless bloke with no way home and shit on his head. And no, it did not bring me luck; I spent close to 400 quid for a fleapit ‘hotel’ and a new flight home, as well as having to call in sick on my first day in the new job.
And herein lies my problem with pigeons; not specifically the act of shitting on our heads, but the overall lack of manners they display. Whilst nobody likes rats, they at least have the decency to keep to themselves in the sewers and undergrounds. Pigeons, on the other hand, brazenly walk among us, fly inches from our faces, steal our food and, when they need a laugh, take a dump on our heads. Ok, so the flying bit aside, that could also describe the Government, but the point stands. Pigeons need to learn some manners; they need to learn to keep their distance. It is simply not acceptable that something more disease-ridden than a ship full of Rab C Nesbitts on a 16th century jaunt around Cape Horn should be able to integrate itself so casually among pedestrians and outdoor diners.
Whilst nobody likes rats, they at least have the decency to keep to themselves in the sewers and undergrounds.
So how do we put some manners on the little blighters? Like the problems of pop stars and the multitude of TV chefs, the answer lies with genocide. It’s simply not practical to sit down with each and every pigeon and explain why they need to keep a healthy distance between themselves and the rest of society (where would we find the time?!), so the only other option available is to make them fear humans. The best way to achieve this is a mass cull. A few years ago the council of Barcelona decided to cull 65,000 pigeons. When I heard there was an online petition, naturally I logged on - 65,000 didn’t seem like nearly enough. To my horror, it turned out the petition was to save the flying vermin! Thankfully the council held their nerve and the good folks of Catalonia were able to hang their washing outdoors once again.
A similar act needs to take place in our major towns and cities too. Not only should a series of mass culls take place, t-shirts should be made, depicting the event, to be worn weeks and months afterwards, so as to remind the pigeons of what happens when they get too close.
Before anyone screams ‘inhumane’ or ‘upsetting the eco-balance’, I would like to make it clear I am not advocating the complete extinction of pigeons, just a (relatively) small cull to teach them some manners. If people still want to eat them, race them or use them to send messages behind enemy lines, then more power to them. For the rest of us though, we should be able to go about our daily lives knowing our chances of attaining an impromptu white hat have been greatly diminished.
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