Stuart Heritage: “Why I hate seagulls”
Stuart Heritage is a freelance journalist who mainly writes for The Guardian. After a talk for The Badger, he told us his ideal article would be about how much he hates seagulls and he’d been trying to get The Guardian to commission it for years – so we suggest he write it for us instead! Stuart says: “I gratefully accepted their suggestion”. And here you are… Stuart Heritage’s dream article.
“When the seagulls follow the trawler”, said Eric Cantona after assaulting a Crystal Palace fan during a match in 1995, “it’s because they think sardines will be thrown into the sea”.
He was wrong of course. Seagulls follow trawlers because they’re arseholes.
Seriously. They’re dicks, the lot of them. Alligators might be more dangerous, scorpions might be more poisonous and wasps more irritating, but there is no creature on the face of the planet that I’d like to kick in the mouth more than the seagull. Look at them, swaggering around the place, nowhere near the sea, with their big stupid eyes and their clown feet and their entirely unjustified sense of entitlement. It’s a scientific fact that if seagulls could wear clothes, they’d turn up their collars like a gang of beery rugby berks on a disappointing stag night. Don’t argue with me. This is science.
I just entered ‘seagull’ into Google News. Here’s what came up, genuinely. It’s an article from the Bristol Post, dated 17 March 2017. “Matter of time before someone is seriously hurt’ by seagull, warns expert” is the headline. It’s about how aggressive Bristol’s seagulls traditionally get in May and June, divebombing people and stealing their food. But that’s not the horrifying bit. This is the horrifying bit: “In 2015, a Yorkshire terrier dog was killed by a seagull who pecked it to death and less than a week later a tortoise died in a similar attack”.
A seagull pecked a dog to death. A. Seagull. Pecked. A. Dog. To. Death. To death. Jesus Christ.
And this is just one story. There’s a seagull in Scotland that keeps stealing stuff from Greggs. A council in Cornwall has issued locals with a list of ways to stay safe from seagulls, and it includes ‘put metal spikes on your roof’. The roof of Manchester Victoria station literally collapsed in February, thanks to all the seagulls that had been relentlessly pecking at it in a desperate bid to undermine their human enemies.
In Scarborough, the seagull problem has got so bad that the local council has literally had to hire some birds of prey to scare the seagulls away. Which is a nice move, but it doesn’t go nearly as far as it should. There should be snipers on rooftops to ward off the seagull menace. There should be drones with knives sticking out of them policing the skyline. You know those ground-to-air missiles they mounted on buildings during the London Olympics, to intercept hijacked jets? They should be brought out of storage, dusted off, sent to Scarborough and set off until nobody on the High Street can move for bits of shattered beak.
Nobody would mind. The seagull is almost unique in its inability to inspire empathy in the public. Whenever the government suggests a fox cull, for example, everyone loses their minds. And these are foxes we’re talking about. From the day we’re born, literature does its best to convince us that all foxes are villains. And yet, despite this, culling remains unthinkable. Meanwhile, when the government suggests a seagull cull, as it last did in February, the overwhelming public response is “Good, they’ve got it coming, the chip-stealing feathery pricks”.
I’ve had it with seagulls. I’ve had it with how big they are. I’ve had it with how evil their eyes look. I’ve had it with putting bird food out in my garden, only to see all the beautiful little normal-sized birds getting scared off by a handful of lumbering dickhead seagulls, looking for all the world like they’re walking back to the train station after a Kasabian concert. I’ve had it with the fact that they don’t even make a proper sodding bird noise.
I have one wish in life, and that’s to end world hunger. Specifically it’s to end world hunger by smashing up all the seagulls with a shovel and feeding them to people. Someone help me make my dream come true.
Stuart Heritage’s new book, Don’t Be a Dick, Pete is being published by Penguin on 4 May 2017.
Penguin calls it an “unconventional and laugh-out-loud biography of his brother.”