Saturday, 26 September 2009


Here on the Estuary the gulls are sane and law abiding enough and only quarrel among themselves. The one thing one can criticise them for is the methodical way in which they bespatter the boats on the moorings with their viscous guano. At certain times of the year around high water, rows of juvenile gulls can be seen sitting along the gunwales of small boats comfortably perched, facing outboard and cheerfully discharging inboard. They put me in mind of the German recruits on their Gemeinschaftslatrine that Erich Maria Remarque describes in All Quiet on the Western Front.

I think the authorities that make war on seagulls would miss them more than something. They are certainly more enthusiastic scavengers than , for example, Plymouth’s streetcleaners. I have watched gulls cleaning up Union Street in the early hours, after the jolly sailors and royals have found their tripashore beds. They gobble up the abandoned fish and chips, the burgers, the fried chicken, the kebabs and even the naval vomit from the paving. Wherever the people fill the land with their uncleanness the seagulls descend like pure white miniseraphs to make good.

Tomorrow: The essential greed of gulls.

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