I’m not quite sure how I feel about this afternoon’s adventures. Slightly boofus? Annoyed? A bit sheepish because throughout the experience, even as the horror unfolded, I was thinking “this is totally bloggable”? Have I discovered that I am nicer than I thought? Or meaner? You decide.
It started when I was walking back to the office from a meeting at around 4pm. As I emerged from under a railway bridge, a car shot past me, accelerating, there was a muffled “thunk”, and a cloud of feathers billowed into the sunshine. The car whizzed off, the driver obviously pleased with his (I’m making an assumption here, both on gender and intention) bloodthirsty work.
I actually vomited a little in my mouth at the scene the vehicle left in its wake. Five pigeons were scattered across the road, at various stages along the alive/dead spectrum.When I was little I was scared of pigeons and used to shriek “meaty legs! meaty legs!” in fear when I saw them. Today’s pigeon massacre didn’t do much to bury this early pigeon-horror mental connection. I was frozen to the spot, boaking mildly and hit with the realisation that this was probably the grossest thing I had ever seen in real life. Wings and legs and heads were splayed at unnatural angles, some of them were twitching, and most eyeing me as if to say “help me”.
I have to confess that if one pigeon had been hurt, I (*whispers*) might have made like Dione Warwick and walked on by. But the extent of the carnage shocked me into action. I hurried back to the office and called the RSPCA, feeling, I’m ashamed to admit, very smug about my good-heartedness. The (rather arsey, actually) guy in the call centre explained wearily to me that I needed to go and check the pigeons were still there, and wait with them until the officer came out. I couldn’t just tell the RSPCA then wash my hands of the whole sorry business. I was invested in these birds, it seemed. This was the point at which I confronted the uncomfortable limits of my goodwill. I sort of wished I had never called. But, fearing karmic retribrution, I found myself abandoning my extensive to-do list and going back to Pigeon Watch on the street corner, cold and anxious at the preshus work time being wasted.
The scene I returned to was less dramatic: three of my feathered friends had flown away; one had passed away neatly lying on his back, with his little meaty legs curled up on his chest; only one poor birdy soul was still hanging on, every now and then dragging himself grotesquely across the pavement by the power of one healthy wing.
A young lad with a lip ring called David, who looked like an extra from Skins and explained that he’s a vegetarian so the pigeons’ fate was “like, a double blow”, had taken up residence at the crime scene and had called the RSPCA too. On hearing this news, I once again discovered that I’m not quite the Erin Brocovich of the bird world that I thought I was. My first thought was: David can wait with the pigeon! I can go back to work! But David’s boss at the bar he works at was calling him and grumbling about lateness, so I told him to run along and I would wait for the RSPCA. We had an awkward number-swapping moment- he wanted to know when the pigeon had been rescued and wouldn’t rest easy til he had word from me. I tell you, if I had been a 17 year old Emo, it could have been the love story of the year.
30 minutes later I was still shivering and guarding the poor beady-eyed pigeon. At one point a blind woman heard me on the phone badgering (heh) the RSPCA- because I had to go home at some point in the evening and wanted to know where officer was- and stopped to ask what was going on and offer to fetch a cardboard box from her office to put the pigeon in. But then neither of us could stomach the idea of touching it, so we abandoned that idea.
Turns out the double-call from both David and I had led to the call centre accidentally cancelling both call outs- which they tried to blame on ME(!), leading to an unexpected call centre-based strop on my part (the sort of behaviour that would normally be saved for dealing with banks). Eventually I was forced to leave the pigeon, as I really did have to go home. I called the RSPCA again to explain my predicament, mumbling feebly “he’s crawled under a wheelie bin now so he should be protected”.
And now I am racked with guilt; I wonder what happened to old Meaty Legs, twitching under the wheelie bin. I hope he was found and made comfortable (dude was in dire need of some drugs). And I feel bad for my Skins friend David. I phoned him when I left the scene, saying “hello, it’s Pigeon Girl” and explaining the situation. He was OK about it but dismayed that he couldn’t be assured of Meaty Leg’s safety. I hope he is not losing sleep over the pigeon’s fate (should I text him to give him some closure? Or would that make me Weird Stalker Pigeon Girl? I’m stumped).
And I hope not to get embroiled in a pigeon massacre again, ever. Unless I run out blog material, that is.