The Unshooable

It’s still raining. The puddles on the roof across the courtyard have grown deep enough for crows to bathe in…and they are. I don’t see why they bother: they could stand pretty much anywhere, and have a shower.

I caught a gull, yesterday — very briefly, and not on purpose. It was that silly, gormless one that’s been plaguing my feeder, all winter. To understand how this happened, you must first digest this chronicle of my increasingly ineffectual attempts to shoo the blighter, in 1980s text-adventure format:


You are in the living room. A desk is here. A folding chair is here. A sliding door gives on the balcony, to the east. Other exits are north and west.
>> Command?

>> work

> You work. This folding chair is killing your back. (-1 Health)
> Horrors! A gull swoops in from above, and settles on your balcony. It regards you with pale, baleful eyes.
>> Command?

>> keep an eye on the gull

> You don’t have an eye.
>> Command?

>> watch gull

> The gull attempts to land on your birdfeeder! Fortunately, it’s too large to complete the manoeuvre, and too daft to land alongside. The gull is thwarted. (+1 Point)

SLIGHTLY LATER THAT OCTOBER (oh, and we’re switching games, by the way. I’m now a Dragon Quest hero, fighting the gull.)

A Gull draws near!

>> Fight!

SOCAR stands up and waves a pen around!
The Gull’s bravery has been reduced by 1!
The Gull squawks!
SOCAR’s patience decreased by 5!


>> Spell!

SOCAR shouts at the gull!
The Gull’s bravery has been reduced by 1!
The Gull flees!
SOCAR has defeated the Gull!

+0 Experience
+0 Gold

NOVEMBER (and now, we’re playing Space Quest.)

The gull flumps down gracelessly by the feeder, and starts stuffing its beak. Better hurry, Socar! The last of the seed vanishes down its gullet in exactly 2 minutes!

>> open door

You’re not close enough.


>> open door

Oops! We overestimated the time it takes a hungry gull to hoover everything in sight. You DIE! [Restore] [Restart] [Quit]

>> Restore…but why do I DIE, if the gull eats all the food? Can’t I just buy more?

No. You DIE. And now, you’ve died again: the gull cleaned you out, while you were arguing the validity of your death. [Restore] [Restart] [Quit]

>> Restore.

The gull flumps down gracelessly by the feeder, and starts stuffing its beak. Better hurry, Socar! The last of the seed vanishes down its gullet in exactly 2 minutes!


You charge the window. The gull flies away. Congratulations on scaring a bird away, without dying.

DECEMBER (Angry Birds!)

Figure A

      ---()>          |                  |
                      |                  |

Figure B 

                      |                  |
                      |                  |

And, off he goes. Three stars!

JANUARY (no more games! This is serious, now!)

The gull had lost all fear of shouting, pen-waving, charging, coat-flapping, and plush missiles. (Note: there was never any chance the Angry Bird would hit the gull. The window was closed. It bounced harmlessly off the glass, and the gull bounced harmlessly off my balcony. Till it figured out the concept of glass, that is.)

By January, the gull knew it could not be harmed by anything inside my apartment. It knew it could eat as much as it liked, as long as I didn’t come outside. The only thing that would still discourage it was noise. If I rattled the blinds at it long enough, it would go. It would be back, of course, two or three minutes later — but after a few good rattlings, it would give up, for a while.


The gull had become impervious to sound. Obnoxious noises? Bring ’em on! It no longer reacted to

* rattling blinds
* banging on the glass
* whistleblowing
* klaxon horns
* hawk screams
* human screams
* loud swearing
* banging pot lids.

(Some of these sounds were, of course, computer-generated. I don’t keep a hawk or a klaxon horn in my apartment.)


…which brings us to me catching the gull, entirely by accident. Lately, the only way to get rid of it, even for a minute or two, has been to fling open the door and run at it, full-tilt, flapping one’s coat. (Stop picturing it. Stop laughing! This is a serious problem! Seriously!)

So, yesterday, I flung open the door, grabbed my coattails, and ran at the gull. And it didn’t bloody well move. And I clapped my coattails together over it, to my own horror, as much as its. The moment of entanglement was brief. I opened my coat. The gull flapped its wings. We shrieked at each other, and completed our disengagement. I hurried inside and took off EVERYTHING THE GULL COULD POSSIBLY HAVE TOUCHED, and stuffed it into its own laundry bag: for the love of god, wash separately! Wash separately!

By the time I’d got into some new clothes, the gull was back. I think it’s got me beat. I can menace it all I like, but if it knows I’m not going to hurt it, what does it care? I think people have been feeding this bird. Not just me, with my feeder, but other people — people with bread, people with pizza crusts, chips, bacon butties, burger bits, everything gulls like to eat. People have been feeding it, and maybe trying to pat it every once in a while, and it’s learned it can have a free meal, if it puts up with a bit of harassment.

I’ve really got to get the new feeder up, the one with the gull-proof dome. I just need the handyman to come round, and set up the pole to hang it. That ought to fix His Nibs.



PS – he’s out there, right now.

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