What better way to spend one’s day off than on the top deck of a number 3 bus, inching very slowly past the Home Office? Well, I could think of plenty, so I went downstairs and pleaded with the bus driver to let me off. I know, I know, they’re not supposed to but he looked at me and looked at the traffic and decided the purely theoretical risk of letting me get out of a stationary bus in stationary traffic outweighed the very real and present danger of me bursting a blood vessel if he didn’t.
I was taking the remains of my cold off to Trafalgar Square partly to see the latest installation on the fourth plinth – the one originally called ‘Hotel for the birds’ but renamed Model for a Hotel now that pigeons are enemy number one in London, pipping Osama Bin Laden and even Boris Johnson into second place. When I got there, no pigeons seemed to have checked in yet; indeed, apart from a few rather restless groups of them wheeling round the surrounding buildings, there weren’t any pigeons there at all.
The reason for that soon became apparent. I have often wondered – as I steer my bike around them – just what exactly pigeons are afraid of. Not me, obviously, and my feeble bell. Not – from the evidence of the squashed remains on the road – cars, not even on some occasions speeding express trains. But there is one fear hard-wired into their little pigeon brains and it’s this.
And I’d rather see that than a whole barrel load of pigeons, any day. Don’t tell Brian, though.