Seagull

The Scotsman has been inviting blogs from Edinburgh Festival participants, but since their website is completely impenetrable, quite the worst of any newspaper I’ve come across, I’ve no idea if they’ve been used.  Of course they don’t bother to respond.  So thought I’d put them up here anyway.  This is the first…

The bird screeches like the Wicked Witch of the West having an orgasm. The display opens with something between a purr and a squawk, as if it has been surprised by someone sticking a finger up its bottom, and builds to a terrifying – well, ‘climax’ is the only word.  Then it stands immobile on the chimney top of the house opposite our flat in Spey Terrace, looking like a weather cock.  Except, of course, it’s a weather seagull.

The seagulls of Edinburgh are so much part of the aural landscape that probably the local people don’t notice them.  To me they are nostalgic.

We used to have seagulls in London when I was growing up in the early 60s. Thousands of them.  They used to dive for your lunchtime sandwiches as you took them out of your satchel.  They’d snatch them from your hand if you weren’t careful.  The docks were still functioning in a world-class port.  But the docks were destroyed when the world moved on, and the developers in league with the local councils achieved what Hitler was unable to do.  Now you have to go out to Tilbury and Gravesend now to see them in any numbers.

Now there is an absence in the air, and seagulls are an occasional sighting.  There are yuppie flats where the cranes once stood, and the locals have mainly moved out to the outer suburbs and the new towns.  Instead of seagulls in Rotherhithe and East India Docks, we have bankers, who snatch metaphorical sandwiches out of our hands in other ways.  Seagulls or bankers?  I know which I’d rather have.

Peter Scott-Presland

Peter Scott-Presland is the author and performer ofLocked In’ (Venue 53 till Aug 25th at 12.50) and the author/director of ‘Strip Search’ (Venue 54 until Aug 25th at 23.05)

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