Sunday, July 16, 2006



It’s not the name of the latest Scottish heavy metal band. It’s fluttering and squawking above our heads: thousands of seagulls who have invaded Aberdeen and taken up permanent residence. Why confine yourself to hunting for darting fish in the sea when the city provides the best, fried fish and chips?

You know they’re everywhere by their wild squawks that wake you in the morning, at two AM and whenever you try to sit down and think. Like drama queens (thank you Sue) they tilt their heads back, beaks to the sky and belt out their arias. Each one needs to be heard and make her squawk louder and more emphatic than her neighbor’s.

While I walk to work in the morning, they wheel above my head or strut along the pavement like they own the place, dive into trash cans and pull out stale fish and chips or leftover hamburger. If you sit down to picnic on the grass, you’ll find a couple of bloated birds, wingspans like albatrosses, eyeing you. They’re impudent enough to dive in and fly off with your sandwich if you set it down to make love to your lady. I saw one dive down, grab a plastic grocery sack with food, and make off with it. Their white shit rains down indiscriminately, dribbles down on your car, your coat, and if you’re unlucky will catch you in the eye should you look up.

In Richard Bach’s fable (sorry guys, we sixties kids fell for that sort of writing which no one has read since those days,) the Breakfast Flock cleaned up beaches and chased after boats. Disgusted by such behavior Jonathan Livingston decided to go it alone and learn to fly. Perhaps he taught them something. Watch how they come in for a landing on the tall chimneys above the granite row houses. Down they swoop at thirty miles an hour, land on a ten inch wide pad and never miss their footing. I doubt we can manage that feat with our helicopters armed with our fancy computer navigation.

Despite their droppings they leave a clean city. You’ll rarely see any scrap of food left on the sidewalks. And that’s not because we have efficient scaffys. (English or American speakers had better look up the word. I’m tired of translating from Scottish.) I see the scaffy occasionally, an elderly man with a frizzy beard, pushing his cart along the pavement, a large bin in the middle and two large brooms in their cradles, one on each side. He cleans up seagull shit and barf from last Friday night, but I never see him pick up a scrap of food.

Leave it for our screaming friends in the sky to help.

I've read Illusions by Bach and I'm an eighties kid!

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