I don’t like birds and they don’t like me. I love animals … just not the feathered variety.
Furry ones are fine. I STILL miss Tiddles the kitten and Bob the Cat, two feline friends from my younger days.
As for dogs, as a boy I had Frannie, a brindle Heinz 99 named after my favourite footballer Francis Lee, and paid an absolute fortune relocating Lucky, the rescued desert dog, and his two Shih Tzu-style playmates, back to my family home in the UK.
I even bought my eldest daughter, Charmaine, a pet snake called Ben-E, named after the famous soul singer, for her 10th birthday and he recently passed away after a good innings of some 25 years.
So I reckon I have a bit of an animal-loving pedigree. I just never struck a chord with birds.
My late mother, Edie, got us a family budgie and whenever she let it out of the cage it would calmly sit on my sister’s finger and then proceed to dive bomb my head before cutely dancing on the curtain rail. Although I hated that bird, please note, I was not the one who left the window open …
Birds continue to come back and haunt me but I’ll come to that later. In fact they’ve proved nothing but pesky throughout my career as a journalist too.
I once held the coveted role of community editor of a regional newspaper in the UK. My task was to ‘get things done’, to improve the well-being of the residents and help boost the business sector.
We had a great plan. We were going to light up the Humber Bridge, at the time, the third largest single-span bridge in the world. It linked Grimsby to Hull. Why anyone would want to travel between these two ports over a bridge is anyone’s guess but there was talk of building a new motorway linking London and Sunderland, which never actually materialised.
The only problem was that few people used the magnificent structure because the toll was too expensive as the local government had to try to cover the cost of the interest charges on the loan needed for its construction … and, to be honest, who wanted to go from Grimsby to Hull, or visa-versa, in any case?
But it was, and still is to this day, a stunning piece of engineering excellence. So, it seemed like a good idea to light it up and turn it into a tourist attraction.
Everyone jumped on board … I even had a six-figure cheque from a major utility company presented to me at a grand ceremony with photographers and cameramen on duty to record the moment.
Then the birds dropped a bombshell, or rather a crusading environmentalist who reckoned migrating mallards might get disorientated by the lights and could crash into the bridge.
I chuckled at first thinking I was doing them a favour by lighting it up so that they spot it at night and fly around it … but it was no laughing matter.
The crusader gathered his angry flock of supporters and started protesting at the bridge and called the BBC’s County File into action.
Now, this was a pathetic TV programme watched by old fuddies on a Sunday morning before the national broadcaster switched to Songs of Praise which nobody watched … apart from a few fellow old fuddie-duddies who couldn’t be bothered to go to a church service.
Suddenly, one morning I was ‘door-stepped’ outside my office by some chap in a cardigan who used to present a kiddies programme before he got too old and fuddy-duddy, sticking a microphone in my face asking me why I wanted to ‘kill the birds’?
Perhaps I shouldn’t have replied: “Well, what have birds done for me, apart from break my heart on several occasions?” I thought it was funny.
It wasn’t long before the crusaders had started a petition urging folk to change suppliers and the utility company pulled out of the project and tore up the cheque.
The campaign to light up the bridge was a dismal failure.
It was just like the budgerigar all over again … pooping on my head.
I thought I’d escaped the birdy bad luck when I moved to Bahrain … but no, they came back with a vengeance as soon as I moved to my apartment in Sanabis.
I enjoy a run in the morning before work and had set myself up on an enjoyable route (check out a future column on running art) jogging past a bus shelter opposite the exhibition centre.
Next to it is the biggest flock of pigeons I’ve ever witnessed – think ‘Feed the Birds (Tuppence a Bag)’ from that old Disney classic Mary Poppins and add hundreds more of the flea-riddled flying vermin to the picture.
Maybe the caped bird crusader from the Humber Bridge has moved to the kingdom because a ton of food is scattered on the ground each morning. They have to be the fattest birds in Bahrain and there’s even a water tank set aside for them so they can wash all the grub down.
To avoid stepping onto the road I’ve been forced to put my head down and run though the pesky plague of pigeons and just to get their revenge they flew up into the sky this morning and dive-bombed me, with three direct hits down my neck with slimy, smelly … well, you can guess.
What the flock! Is it any wonder that I hate birds?