If there’s a subject which engenders strong, definite opinions for or against, it’s pigeons in London. In this court case, for which I thank the Old Bailey for making their services available, we’ll take a forensic look at the evidence, starting with the case for the prosecution.
“What is a pigeon?” I here you ask, My Lord. Ha ha ha, My Lord. Oh, you’re serious? Well (clears throat and addresses the jury) a pigeon is an avian. An extremely successful avian at that, which has colonized the entire planet we call Earth. Yes, My Lord, just like humans. However, unlike us they have a beak, wings of feathers and a tail. No, My Lord, I do not know certain members of your private golf club. May I continue? Thank you.
On the minus side. Well, they can tend to poop on anything and anyone. Then again, so do pets, and which doesn’t make this a key issue, much less a killer argument.
Birdbrain is a common insult, yet it is not pigeon specific, so I ask the jury to ignore it in their deliberations.
Pigeons use public transport, especially tube trains (a form of public transport where trains run on tracks which are underground for at least part of their route, My Lord. No, seriously), and have never been known to pay the requisite fare, thus meaning that the whole cost of their journey is borne from the human purse. However, they provide amusement for fellow travellers during the process, with much pointing and comments along the lines of “Look, there’s a pigeon. Will it get off at the next stop? It has! Aren’t pigeons cheeky nowadays?” and such like, which, in my opinion, actually puts this aspect of their behaviour firmly in the plus column.
Some human ailments can be caused by pigeons, especially “pigeon breeders lung”. This is most unfortunate, and professional medical help should always be sought. So “strike one” for the pigeon.
They eat items from the street which we find disgusting. Mind you, this helps to keep those streets clean. If we don’t like seeing what they eat, and have no intention of trying to change their eating habits, we shouldn’t really be staring at them, should we? It’s avoidably bad manners.
On the plus side. Pigeons carry messages during wartime, for which I give thanks on behalf of a grateful nation. This alone must surely carry at least equal weight against the human ailments which pigeons can provoke.
Many people enjoy pigeon breeding and pigeon racing, which are long-established sources of employment. Although I have personally found it impossible to outrun a flying pigeon. It was supposed to be a little levity, My Lord, after the previous, serious health point. No? OK, moving swiftly on.
Trafalgar square was once known around the world for the iconic pigeons which congregated there. Removing the pigeons may have caused a significant drop in income from tourists.
Thank you My Lord. That the jury have unanimously voted not guilty (or “nay” in the context of this piece) could indeed be considered a “coup” for me. Most droll, My Lord, most droll.
To date a writer of fiction, he was previously nominated for The James White Award. Along with numerous short stories published online, his stories appear in the printed anthologies Small Crimes, Daikaiju!2: Revenge of the Giant Monsters, and Murder in Vegas (edited by Michael Connelly, and which has also been released in audio book format). Neither Legal Nor Tender, a London serial novel, appears in Jukepop.com, where a new chapter is written weekly and posted every Wednesday.
New London Writers provides a home for his personal observations.
TP Keating cannot overstate how indebted he is to his beautiful wife, Marielle, for her unending patience in reading his numerous drafts. The stories simply wouldn't exist without her.