I’m not even supposed to call them ‘seagulls’, which I have done quite happily all my life. There is no such thing apparently, they don’t exist. So I attempt to learn and stick to plain ‘gulls’. But I definitely have decided views on them. Not exactly views in their favour, you may have already discerned.
I don’t like them. A few springs ago there seemed to be a breeding bonanza around here and within a couple months there were of course all the mouthy little ones sitting on roof tops swearing, yes I’m serious, actually swearing, at the passerbys. I was not impressed. Gulls might not have manners but I would prefer it if they could keep their children under control. Gulls definitely swear. They don’t have any manners. And if their children are not swearing at random strangers then they’re busy caterwauling to their circling parents about the lack of food. For months it wasn’t safe to pass under certain roofs in our neighbourhood.
A friend of mine actually likes them. I think that’s a little crazy. I see nothing likeable about these avaricious beasts. Now I’m not susceptible to class prejudices but gulls definitely represent the lower social end of life with all its fowl traits. As I’ve already said, they’re rude and noisy. You definitely wouldn’t want them living next door, or worst yet, on your actual roof. They’re aggressive too. In fact, they make an entire neighbourhood unsafe!
Further, not only are they greedy but they’re have a predilection for junk food. Goodness knows what they raise their children on but it can’t be healthy. The children are all pumped up on sugar and grease and fat abusing the neighbours, ready for any chance to throw more than insults. In fact, they’re such junk food addicts that they’ll attack people for it. It’s not just in seaside resorts that they’ll dive in for the kill, scary little old ladies into dropping their freshly cooked chips. And big burly blokes.
I don’t think much of pigeons either, they usually look slightly worse for wear than gulls. A crazed look in one eye, a gammy leg preferably with a piece of wire encircled and also a taste for junk. But they don’t make quite make so much noise about it.
The sound of gulls mewling as they wheel in the air is the sound of the seaside. Gulls used to live there, which is why I suppose they earned the name ‘seagulls’. When I was a child, they used to only really come inland when there was bad weather on the coast. We were twenty miles from the sea. You heard them and knew that it wasn’t a good day to go to the beach, regardless of what the weather was doing locally.
Now they’re here, living in our towns, all the time. And now they don’t just mewl, they shriek and scream and swear. Gobby little urchins. And they’re not even that little either. I think they represent a good case for the perils of urbanisation.
Where I grew up, there were wood pigeons. A slightly better looking cousin to the urban blight. I think someone had a cote. There were at least two that we got to know. (Or maybe there were more all using the same call sign). The first was ‘I feel SICK’. This was proclaimed at regular intervals in a lugubrious tone, with a heavy emphasis on the final word. There was a second. A variation on the first. He was ‘I feel sleepy’. A slightly more wearied tone uttered this announcement, with the ‘sleepy’ elongated for the appropriate effect.
Now I have a seagull. See, I did it again. It’s a gull! OK. A gull. Which flies past my bedroom window regularly. Usually when I’m just waking up. He’s classy. There is no melody in his voice, even when compared to the flat tones of the wood pigeons previously described, and his pitch is monotonous too. But he makes a noise, a big noise.