Once I bought a house with a roof terrace from where I would be able to observe the sea, and ships passing by.
Before I moved in I had to go away for several months and by the time I had returned unwelcome guests had installed themselves on my roof terrace. Their wings flapped, they cooed incessantly, at dusk they came wheeling in, and perched on the tables and balustrades. Their excreta made a thick white coating on the wooden floor. When I ran out they flew up but as soon as I left, down they came.
I bought some stone owls with glassy eyes, I draped rubber snakes about but nothing drove them away.
Then a friend told me about The Pigeon Men. The next day they came; two stocky men wearing Marlon Brando sunglasses and dark shirts. They arrived together in a dark car of the kind we call a ‘Ute’ in Australia, with many accoutrements in the back.
They had whirligigs that deterred pigeons from landing, tubs of glue, and metal spikes. They spent an afternoon sticking the metal spikes on every flat surface. Then I gave them a large amount of cash and they drove away. That night, when the pigeons came wheeling home, they screeched to a halt in midair,’ What th?’ Nowhere to land. I don’t know where they went, but they found other lodgings from that day on. Even now , quite a few years later, when the glue has lost its stick and the metal spikes sometimes fall from the roof to the peril of passers by, they have not returned.
At the time this caused me to have frequent dreams about pigeons, and was the inspiration for our ideas about Dr Crane’s Pigeonnic Augury in our book Crane Mansions:
Dr Hubert Crane, Headmaster of Crane Mansions Regulatory School for the Indigent, master of this whole world of pupils, staff and servants, sat at his desk peering through his telescope at the pigeon loft outside his window. he could see a group of three birds. One had the iridescent band around its throat, another a russet and white body, the other a lower type, probably female, was dark grey. They perched on the edge of the loft, iridescent band hopped down a square, russet followed, and then, ‘ What impudence,’ whispered Dr Crane, inferior grey squeezed in next to iridescent band so he had to move aside. Then the dance began again.
This has come back to my mind because recently someone sent me the link to this little song by Tom Lehrer (But I was never tempted to take this course of action.)