Monday, July 17, 2006

Flying rats

I went out early on Sunday morning, heading for an 8am church service. When I got to the church and saw only two people inside I changed my mind and went for a walk instead.

Central London is dead on a Sunday morning. It's peaceful but stinky because there's a lot of urine and vomit around from the night before. I walked through Trafalgar Square where homeless people were waking up and a guy was wading through the fountains fishing out rubbish with a net.

Without all the usual crowds, I noticed the abundance of signs advising people not to feed the pigeons. The signs included a translation in Hindi, which may come as a shock for tourists from India, hoping to recreate the opening scene of 'Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge'.

An article in the newspaper today caught my attention. A member of the 'Pigeon Action Group' was quoted, complaning that a hawk used to scare away pigeons in Trafalgar Square has mauled 14 since the start of the year.

Fascinated by the idea of a PAG, I went googling and found out that there is much more to the story. In 2001, the London authorities reached a cash settlement with the last pigeon food seller in the square.

Feeding the pigeons was outlawed, with the exception of a daily 7:30am feeding by a group named 'Save the Trafalgar Square Pigeons'.

Recently however, the PAG emerged, doing rogue feeding outside the official arrangements. It is unclear whether the PAG are a radical splinter group from the STSP. The STSP, however, are now very unimpressed because their permission to do controlled feedings has been revoked.

I guess this means less pigeons. Yay.


dimsumdolly said...

Yeah, honestly i can't stand all these pigeons. They are, really, a health hazard what with all their droppings all around. People really should stop feeding them!

The only time i like pigeons is when they're roasted to perfection like the ones found in HK eateries. Haha!

joe said...

I like them roasted too but always wonder where they've come from!

I'll never forget eating out with a friend who I thought would be put off by pigeon. To my surprise we both sucked the brains out, put the heads on a chopstics and used them as puppets.

cal said...

I was going to say, "Sheesh, call yourself an English teacher, it should be 'I guess this means fewer pigeons'". But thinking about it, if each pigeon remains in the Square but doesn't get fed , less pigeon could be correct. For a while at least.

joe said...

hehe... my teaching emphasises communicative ability rather than grammatical correctness. It might be an Australian English thing cos I don't think I ever use 'fewer'.

It's true about the 'less pigeon' though. The STSP have been weighing them. I'm sure that they will be able to move on to more pleasant locations like nearby St James' park where the overfed ducks refuse all but the choicest bread.

Knuffy's Owner said...

Aaarrrggghhh! That is disgusting!! You should warn your vegetarian friends first before describing those gruesome meals.

What is the 3rd language on that sign? Is it Spanish? I can make out that the 2nd one is French and the last 2 are obvious. It's very interesting what languages a country chooses to write signs in, and what order they're put in.

By the way, I've seen people in Venice and Barcelona buying pigeon food and spreading it all over themselves so that they'll become covered in pigeons! Ugh! Shudder.

joe said...

Okay... on future posts I will put 'warning: non-veg content' in the title. Hehe, it reminds me of the way that 'non-veg' is used euphemistically in India, i.e. 'His jokes are non-veg but they are so funny', 'The film is non-veg, I wouldn't recommend watching it with your grandma'.

I can't make out the writing on that sign either, the photo isn't great quality. I was surprised to see Hindi on the sign - it's common to see Bengali translations here but Hindi is quite rare.

joe said...

oh by the way, my sister and brothers and I did that in Venice too... mostly just because it freaked out our mum so much...