Truro Council hopes ‘anti-gull’ paint will thwart seagulls putting the seaside town ‘under siege’
It seems the summer silly season is upon us once more. Or is it? With some help from my spirit guide, Bob, I asked five famous authors for their thoughts on the seagull menace.
No one would have believed in the early years of the twenty-first century that Cornwall was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences far greater than man’s; that as men busied themselves about their various journeys they were scrutinised and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scrutinise the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water. With infinite complacency men went to and fro on South West and Great Western trains, ice creams, buckets and spades in hand, serene in their assurance that their train would, indubitably, not arrive on time. Yet across the vast array of stations, feathery minds regarded our not-so-easy transit with envious yellow eyes, and slowly and surely drew their plans against us.
Robert Jordan saw them there on the roof, white feathers stark against the dark blue sky. He looked down and saw the rail stretching away. Soon the trains would come. The trains would come bearing the ones with cojones. Ice cream cojones. He watched the gulls and heard his own heart beating in the unnatural stillness. Then he heard the singing of the tracks. The tracks sang a song of fear.
It would not be long now.
“Yawk!” cried a gull.
“Yawk!” echoed a hundred of his compatriots.
It is a terrible thing, when a gull rips away your cojones. But not as terrible a thing as war.
When a pigeon defecates on your head he does so with the self-assurance of one who knows not what he does. When a robin defecates on your head, he does so with the self-assurance of one who knows he will be forgiven because he is universally loved. When a blackbird defecates on your head, he does so with the self-assurance of one who knows his syrupy song will lighten the tension and all will be well again between you both. When a seagull defecates on your head, he does so with the self-assurance of one who does not give a fig for what you think because he is your sworn and implacable enemy. Fear the seagull: when one’s head is covered with the vile stench of rotting fish guts, one doesn’t weep for one’s hair, one weeps for one’s life; one weeps for one’s very country.
“They’re trying to kill me,” Yossarian told the Health and Safety Inspector.
“No one’s trying to kill you,” the Health and Safety Inspector cried.
“Then why are they shitting on my head?” Yossarian asked.
“They’re shitting on everyone’s head,” the Health and Safety Inspector answered. “They’re trying to kill everyone. You just have a morbid aversion to dying. You probably resent the fact that you’re in Cornwall and could get your head splattered at any moment.”
“I more than resent it, sir. I am absolutely incensed.”
“You have deep-seated survival anxieties. And you don’t like dunnocks, swallows, choughs or nightingales. Subconsciously there are many avians you hate.”
“Consciously, sir, consciously,” said Yossarian in an effort to help. “I hate them consciously.”
Q. We are not here to listen to speeches, Doctor Seldon. Let me suggest to you that your prediction of gull-related disaster might be intended to destroy confidence in Truro Council for purposes of your own
A. That is not so. The mathematics of psychohistory predict it.
Q. Your mathematics claim that a flock of seagulls will lay waste to Truro?
A. That is correct.
Q. I put it to you that by the mere prediction thereof, you hope to bring it about, and to have then an army of a hundred thousand pest controllers available to rid the land of what many perceive to be a peaceable, nay protected, species.
A. Gentlemen, your peaceable, protected species conquered Bath Spa barely three months ago.
Q. Bath Spa? It is in the Badlands is it not?
A. It is.
Q. Then, pray tell, how did you come by this information? Truro has been isolated from the Badlands for centuries now.
A. A train got through. Possibly the last train from a dying civilization.
Q. Enough, sir! You tax this Council’s patience too far! Your phantom menace of the gulls is one thing. Now you would have us believe that a train ran all the way to Cornwall? Leave us, Doctor Seldon. We have more pressing priorities than your fantastical and paranoid delusions.
One year later
A bloated, blood-red sun hangs low over the shattered, guano-strewn ruins of a once mighty city. Crumbled buildings thrust blackened fingers accusingly at the darkening skies from whence the first gulls had come, leaving no man, woman or child standing in their pitiless wake.
From his underground laboratory, Doctor Hari Seldon gazes at the telemetry images broadcast from the one remaining webcam. He watches the gulls strut and nest. He sees them scavenge and breed. And as the sun sets on the old empire, he lays on his bed and begins to plan for the new Foundation.