Wednesday, 29 February 2012

An Apology

Those who have engaged in any sort of moderately strenuous aerobic physical activity, particularly in the colder months, will perhaps be familiar with the need to expel, on occasion, a snot rocket. Unfortunately it is necessary, but not pleasant, hence why I always try to be away from pedestrians' sight & hearing when launching.

Just two days ago, riding home in the dark, I committed such a rocket to the ground. It was not the first or last that was launched that day, but it was the first to be witnessed: at T+1 second I noticed a person in the vicinity, just across the road.

A cheery wave in their direction.
A call of "Sorry!".
A cheeky & embarrassed grin.
A quick wipe of the nostrils.
A glance back in their direction.
A gap in the fog.

I had apologised to a parking meter.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Foolish Frangos

To be found in Kingston upon Thames:

 Nope, you feckless purveyors of carbonised poultry,
I think you'll find that "The World's Favourite Chicken" is actually this chicken:

Saturday, 18 February 2012

'The Day I Killed A Pigeon' or, 'Why I'm Vegan'

Fucking crows. I used to have a bit of respect for them; they're intelligent and rather majestic birds with those black feathers and that huge, out-of-proportion deep, dark beak. Then a week ago I saw what that beak was for.

Riding to work the other day, through Wimbledon "Village", having survived the kick-in-the-balls that is Wimbledon Hill, there was something aflutter on the pavement: a pigeon, that must have been hit by a car, but not killed, harassed by a crow. Even from across the road the blood was evident.

"Jesus...", I thought, and rode on.

But not for long. I couldn't leave the fat little wood pigeon to suffer a slow death at the beak of that murder of one. "Come about", came the order and I went back to the scene. The crow had pissed off, the cowardly devil, leaving blood splashed across the pavement and the pigeon to ineffectually attempt to flee from my approach. I'm no ornithologist (though neither was this guy) but I could see the pigeon was broken. Fucking cars. And the fucking crow had left its mark in the form of a deep wound on the back of the pigeon's neck; interesting from an anatomy point of view what with muscles and perhaps bones visible, but probably of interest to the pigeon for different reasons.

<melodrama>I knew what I had to do.</melodrama>

It was quite quiet that early in the morning at the weekend, but there were still a few people about and I was strangely ashamed of what was coming with them around so I hesitated to act. A lady approached and saw the pigeon flapping at my feet. She concernedly asked after its well-being and the blood. I expressed that it had been hit by a car and that yes, it did look pecked at by the crow that hanging around.

"What are you going to do? Kill it?"
I nodded.
Grimly, "Good luck."

As she walked away I knelt down over the pigeon and rested my right hand on its back. It tensed and stopped flapping, sensing a predator it could not fight off. Comforting, cooing words would have been lost on a wild animal and merely prolonged the time of suffering. Pressing on its back, with its small head between my fingers, I twitched my left hand out and felt a pathetic little parting of vertebrae. The whole body immediately went limp, the head lolling, the feathers near there ruffled and separated on the extended neck.

Like words of reassurance before being euthanised, a decent burial would have meant nothing to the bird, and I had to get away anyway. I didn't feel sick, or disgusted, or proud, or cruel, or merciful, just... weird. I mean, I knew I had to do it and don't regret it but it was the only vertebrate I've ever intentionally killed and it felt, as I say, weird.

I thought of nothing else for the rest of the ride to work, and throughout the day. Cycling home took me past the site again and I was slightly shocked to see the pigeon's body still there, but in a different position to the one I had left it in. There was a niggle in the back of my mind that perhaps I hadn't killed it, only stunned it; after all, what did I know about slaughtering animals. I should have made sure it was dead... I forced myself to dismiss the idea; someone had likely just toed the pigeon toward the back of the pavement to spare the sensibilities of Wimbledon's women & children. It didn't look eaten either probably because the craven carrion crow couldn't get near it as the day's traffic increased.

A strange day for a vegan, that's for sure. I had killed a creature, and I'd intended to, but there was consolation in that I did not feel I had stepped outside my personal vegan mandate (lah-dee-dah).

Recently a conversation arose with a new acquaintance on the subject of why I am vegan. I must admit I am never very good initially at fielding that question, despite having, understandably, to face it fairly regularly; my first thought when the topic arises is a restraining order in my brain placed upon my mouth from merely blurting out "Well, why aren't you vegan?!" which would merely sound militantly supercilious. So I composed my thoughts and fell back upon my one true reason for renouncing animal products: it is how I reduce the amount of suffering in the world.
The pigeon was suffering, its suffering was silenced, the amount of suffering in the world was reduced.

Bizarrely, I quite like the fact that the first, and hopefully, last animal I killed was a pigeon, being as how they are my favourite animals. Even in such circumstances, to help a favoured critter felt as though I was giving something back to the species that entertains me so.

Relatedly, it brings up the issue of the speeding that occurs through the area. A 20mph speed limit wouldn't go amiss; I'm sure my life wouldn't be the only one to be greatly improved with a London-wide residential 20mph limit, especially with all the schools around. Won't someone think of the children, etc.

Friday, 3 February 2012

Oh, bollocks to it.

I was most of the way through composing a fine piece of work (well, I thought it was rather fine), when this delightful blogging software's interface failed to recognise a simple, universal command: apparently, Ctrl+Z is interpreted by Blogger as "delete the whole of the text and then save"...

Therefore, I can no longer be arsed to write about life-saving inventions and rant about pathetic motorists; a mixed blessing if ever there was one.

It's something of a relief actually, akin to desisting with that facebook. It's one less thing for me to pressure myself into doing. Next step: keep phone on silent in bag and only use it to check train times


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