England, the winter of 2006, and all around the country hundreds of retired men whose views on the eradication of Britain’s flying pests were once considered extreme or eccentric, now find their views
gaining credence among the general population, thanks to the ongoing threat of the H5N1 virus, or ‘bird flu’.
“People used to say I was a deranged old crank when my letters were printed in the Bethnal Green Observer every Tuesday.” Recalls grey-haired grandfather of four Sidney Powell, a man we found wandering Victoria Station pointing his 12-bore at the roof. “Nowadays, my belief that we should slaughter all of London’s pigeons doesn’t sound quite so insane. When I’ve been out on my killing expeditions recently I‘ve often heard cheering from local builders or passing executives. A year ago they’d have called the police.” Sid then proceeded to fire at a group of roosting birds, generating a cloud of grey feathers and causing nearby commuters to break into a spontaneous round of applause.
In recent months the bird flu virus has spread from China, across Africa and Eastern Europe, claiming the lives of a hundred vulnerable people as well as several farm workers who refused to stop kissing chickens. Countries from Indonesia to Nigeria have seen an increase in symptoms, which include a growing fever and respiratory problems. Although the condition is presently both rare and treatable, the World Health Organisation has issued a number of shocking predictions. They assert that this disease will definitely result in all of the following; riots for vaccines, a collapse in public order, global economic devastation, human flight from the cities, a body count to rival the black death, and a huge downturn in budgerigar
“We’ve been aware of these problems for a while.” RSPB spokeswoman Gladys Egret told Home Defence. “As well as the more long-term issue of old men wanting to kill all the pigeons. Personally I think avian flu is a fad, like ebola, SARS, bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or Celebrity Big Brother winner Chantelle. The Biblical doom-mongers are going to be very disappointed when H5N1 fails to cut a swathe of horrific death through the United Kingdom. But until then difficulties come about because this virus gives angry OAPs the perfect excuse to wander the streets with kitchen knives, cooing softly at their intended victims. Unfortunately there’s no law against this. Swans can survive thanks to their protection from the Queen, but pigeons are generally classed as unpleasant vermin. If we concentrated on saving them at the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, we’d lose much of our funding. Our members only want to protect the pretty or colourful birds, such as the plover or blue-footed booby. Until pigeons are given a proper image overhaul there’s not a lot we can do.”
The elderly anti-pigeon brigade has been doddering towards 10 Downing Street recently holding large petitions until the government was finally forced to relent, asking the collective’s de facto leader, a 79 year old retired army colonel called Arthur Spaldoon, to draft some proposals. Home Defence has gained access to an early version of these propositions, and can exclusively reveal that Spaldoon’s suggestions include the imprisonment of shuffling old women who feed breadcrumbs to creatures he refers to as ‘flying rats’, the arming of several thousand male pensioners with too much time on their hands to form a ‘Pigeon Militia’ which would patrol suburban high streets, and the employment of ex-Happy Mondays singer Shaun Ryder in an advisory capacity. This last appointment follows Shaun’s youthful successes poisoning homing pigeons, thanks to him the early eighties saw hundreds of bird corpses littering Manchester for weeks at a time. Ryder will be paid for his consultancy work in Tamazepan and kegs of Blue Nun.
“Filthy things they are, bloody pests. I’ve been telling the public we should do this since the day one
shat on my car in 1954.” Mr. Spaldoon explained to HDUK when we caught up with him patrolling
Nantwich town centre and firing his antique blunderbuss at any pigeon foolish enough to approach.
“Apparently it wasn’t bad enough for them to frighten mothers by plopping on the kiddies, we had to
wait for these pests to start carrying that nasty flu too. The bug could kill me and the wife before the
powers-that-be get round to a proper extermination. Tony Blair’s going to help my crusade when the
proposals get through parliament, but in the meantime I urge everyone to take up whatever weapons
are to hand, be they air pistols, catapults, heavy rocks, or just your bare hands. Everyone can help
stop this menace to our way of life.”
Indeed, should the decimation of England’s pigeon population prove successful, there is talk among Arthur’s followers of widening the scope of this mission to include the culling of noisy seagulls, hostile ducks, and any magpie who tries to steal shiny human belongings.
In the meantime Spaldoon and those like him across the UK continue to use the potential spread of bird flu as cover for their anti-pigeon activities, targeting grey and blue birds of the dove family which they see as akin to cockroaches, chavs or crack squirrels. And Arthur isn’t about to let up, not while there’s still fight left in ‘the old bones’. “I know what you’re thinking young fella, you’re thinking this is an impossible goal.” Spaldoon yelled as he unleashed another cloud of buckshot. “But think on. The passenger pigeon was once the most plentiful bird in America, and now it’s completely extinct. Whenever I feel like we won’t succeed, I always remember that incredible achievement. With the help of our Lord and my government we can make the same happen here, bird flu or no bird flu.”