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I was sitting at a bus stop earlier today minding my own business and feeling pretty tired having walked a few miles to get into the town centre in the first place. I was staring at my feet, basically half asleep when one of the pigeons hanging around the square decided to wander up to me and peck away at some crumbs that were right next to my feet. I was quite surprised by this because pigeons, although quite tame, don't usually get that close to people. They're used to kids that don't know any better running around after them on a Saturday morning trying to catch them and presumably pick them up. This little fellow was determined to get his crumbs though and he was literally millimetres away from my feet.
A lot of people don't like pigeons because of the mess they make and the fact that they're swarming all over the town centre. Well they are a fact of life and happen to be there because of the way we live, or rather because of the way some of us live. For example the slob that can't be bothered to put a takeaway carton in the bin, the kids dropping their sweets, the office worker casually pulling the tomato out of her sandwich and just dropping it at her feet and the old man eating a sausage roll with pastry falling like confetti all around him; these people inadvertently provide pigeons with a source of food. Animals and birds tend to hang around where food is easy to come by. They're essentially hard-wired for this, as are we to a certain extent. Okay, so some people dislike these creatures that are there basically at our invitation, but what gives them the right to be cruel to them?
... aiming a foot squarely at the pigeon's head
I must have spent a good five minutes observing my pigeon and to be honest, I was deriving a small amount of pleasure from this. Having had quite a tough month so far, watching this little fellow go about his business was quite entertaining and helped distract me from my troubles. It was around then that a girl sat down on the bench next to me and I noticed that she was eating a baguette (presumably purchased at Greggs Bakery which was very close by. I expected a few stray crumbs to hit the ground and our celebrity pigeon to investigate and sure enough that's exactly what happened.
What I didn't expect however, was someone to chase him for having the audacity to peck at a few bits of bread. The girl's boyfriend had been standing nearby unseen by myself, and at first I thought he had walked close by so that he could poke his head out and see if a bus was coming. It was only when he did it a second time, this time aiming a foot squarely at the pigeon's head, did I realise the true nature of his intent. Fortunately though, our chap being much smarter simply danced out of reach before the toe could connect leaving it's owner looking rather foolish. Presumably this exhibition of was meant to make him look hard and impress the girl, which apparently it didn't because she muttered something distinctly uncomplimentary at him.
Why do people behave like this towards animals and birds? I don't have a special kinship with pigeons myself, but this particular one wasn't doing anyone any harm. Judging by the look of this guy (yes, I know.. book.. cover etc.), this wasn't the first time he had set out to hurt a lesser creature. There he was with his shiny tracky bottoms, designer trainers and shaved head, big grin from ear to ear as if he'd just been given a new toy. Not a nice person, but kind of typical of a certain section of society. Anyway, they left on their bus and shortly after mine turned up. As I got on board and sat down, it suddenly occurred to me that I'm a bit like the pigeon myself at the moment, scratching around trying to earn a living but being thwarted at every opportunity by some higher force. A very sobering thought...