I fear this essay is going to completely destroy the caring, sensitive, nature-loving, liberal cred that (with a few exceptions) I have carefully developed and nurtured over the decades, but... but... I have just got to admit that I absolutely hate, despise, loathe, would happily chop up into little tiny bits and then make up rude songs about so-called ...seagulls. Oh! I suppose I have to admit that they may look sort of graceful as they fly, but that is only until they open their beaks or their bottoms and all Hell breaks loose, then they almost make pigeons or vultures look cute and loveable.
Here in Britain seagulls often approach the size of B-52 bombers with all the 'bomb' carrying capacity that this implies, they also have about as much to do with the sea as (for example) Denver, Colorado. Yes, I know some of them may still lurk about on the seafront, probably just to get onto the 9 o'clock news for stealing holidaymakers french fries (or as we call them over here "chips" (not to be confused with chips, that we call "crisps" over here (though there may be additional confusion if you eat Pringles (never to be confused with the Scottish luxury knitwear makers since 1815, Pringle1, whose products are not as far as I know made from potatoes) which are of course called "potato crisps" everywhere))), but in the grander scheme of things they (the gulls that is) mainly seem to inhabit anywhere that they can annoy large numbers of pedestrians and thereby gain access to chips, or crisps or whatever.
So what earthly use are they?
Well I suppose they do clear up food items from the streets, often discarded ones: pizza slices, the aforementioned potato derivatives, anything from McDonalds, probably the odd unattended baby (though I have no direct evidence for this) and, most horribly of all, the results of over-indulgence in all of the above plus the odd kebab, biriani and far to much cheap beer or larger. This they then convert into the valuable fertiliser known as guano, though they seldom deposit it on the gardens where it would be useful, instead often missing the large numbers of pedestrians they are aiming at.
They also add their own counterpoint to what might be called 'the music of the streets' with raucous cries, often sounding like the laughter of a really evil and loud Bond villain. Presumably they ARE actually laughing as one walks by, as they consider the joys of improving their 'bomb' aiming skills.
I will now force myself to strive, and strive hard, to add anything else they add to the man in the street.
To quickly get it out of the way, I doubt that using them for our target practice with catapult, gun or heat-seeking missile would be practicable, even if extremely satisfying.
Then again using them to promote visiting the seaside, whilst traditional, is hardly to be recommended now-a-days. And using them as mementos (presumably memento mori) of such visits is certainly downright counterproductive.
I desperation I am driven at last to bring to mind a BBC radio programme Desert Island Discs2 to fill the gulls' bleak desert of assistance to humanity. Desert Island Discs, which was once3 named the "greatest radio programme of all time" by a panel of broadcasting industry experts, and has been running since 1942, AND had the same presenter for its first 43 years (the late, great Roy Plomley) starts with the music of By the Sleepy Lagoon by Eric Coates with an accompaniment of, at first crashing waves, and then (and the reason I bring it up here) the singing of seagulls. They are indeed the nicest sounding gulls I have ever heard, probably the nicest in recorded history. So out of the whole vast poopy, noisy, thieving herd of the buggers, just one group of gulls has been gainfully employed, admittedly since WWII, but that's all. The rest is silence.
And that's it, the totality of seagull humanitarian activity.
Apart from, and finally, and indeed most importantly: we should ask the great QUESTION (which I'm sure has been tugging at your mind since the beginning, of the essay, if not of Time itself): is there good eating on one of them? Indeed are they edible at all?
Well apart from the fact that they are, apparently, PROTECTED in the UK (as well as some other deluded places) By ¡¡¡LAW for goodness sake!!! there are other considerations.
Now I know for a fact that in the islands off Scotland and in the more or less distant past they were, if not a staple, then at least a menu item, but that was then when they subsisted on fish (the gulls I mean, though come to think of it the islanders too), but nowadays in England most of the gulls you are likely to meet live, as before rehearsed, on a diet of pizza, French fries and the regurgitated effluvium of lager louts. There is an article on this in the woodsmanreport3 where he recommends soaking in them vinegar for a couple of hours before cooking to help "deal with anything unwanted that the bird might have eaten" and possibly dulling out the "gamey, oily texture and taste of the bird". Finally concluding that "the immense bird ... offers very little meat" so it's not really worth the effort---which thought pretty-well covers anything else to do with the aerial evil mmblemmbles.
and, of course,
Cheerio for now
And don't just take it from me:
Seagulls don't deserve our protection
1 Pringle Of Scotland® - Luxury Knitwear Since 1815
2 Desert Island Discs
4 Only if you are really desperate, or really, REALLY curious (in all senses of the word)
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