I know a lot of people who cannot abide magpies. There are, it has to be acknowledged, far more of them these days than I ever remember seeing as a child. I swear that around here they are almost as numerous as the rooks. And they always sound extremely quarrelsome. The rooks are just raucous but the magpies sound as though they are having a serious argument about something.
I am amused to see them, along with the rooks, try to balance on the bird feeder in a neighbour’s garden, a feeder intended for small birds such as blue tits, the kind that are good at hanging upside down! I find magpies quite impressive to look at, however, when they are not being stupid and trying to be small acrobatic birds.
Some people though complain that they have become too numerous and have frightened off other garden birds. This may be the case. And I know that they can be quite aggressive at times, stealing fledgelings from other smaller birds’ nest. But that’s the way nature is, red in tooth and claw and all that sort of stuff. There are people who set traps for them, which seems to me to be a bit extreme, especially as you them have to remove them from the traps and wring their necks - human being red in tooth and claw!
Anyway, I found this Australian magpie story in today’s paper:
“A man has died of head injuries after he was startled by a magpie and crashed his bicycle in Wollongong.
The 76-year-old was riding a pushbike on an off-road path alongside Nicholson Park at Woonona on Sunday morning when he veered off to avoid a swooping magpie, witnesses reported.
He hit a fence post and was thrown to the ground, suffering serious head injuries. He was airlifted to St George hospital in a critical condition and died in the evening.
Australia is entering prime magpie swooping season with the onset of spring, as the birds target cyclists and pedestrians who venture near their nests.
This month a Sydney council shot dead a “particularly aggressive magpie” that had allegedly swooped and injured people over several years, including one case in which a victim had a heart attack.”
I don’t know! Those Australians! Having to have a more extreme version of our birds.
Having said that I have heard of seagulls attacking people who get too close to their nests when eggs are hatching. Not to mention the ones that swoop down and steal your chips at the seaside or try to take you tapas off your table on the terraza of Spanish cafes.
The Americans also like to do things in a spectacular way. In a place called Germantown in Tennessee on September 11th, which the Americans write as 9/11, at 9.11 in the morning a baby girl was born, weighing in at 9lb 11oz. 9. 11 at 9.11 on 9/11 - coinciding with commemorations of the 9/11 terrorist attack on the Twin Towers.
They have named her Christina and her parents promise to explain the significance of her birth details when she is old enough to understand. “Christina is a little miracle during such a sad time. She is a new life amongst the devastation and destruction,” mother-of-four Cametrione Malone-Brown said.
I found myself reflecting on the sheer size of the baby! I know they say each baby you have is bigger than the one before. So I think that Cametrione Malone-Brown, mother of four, should call it a day now. Goodness knows what size the next one would be.
Here’s another American story:- It is reported that the incidence of swearing by US politicians on Twitter has increased tenfold since Trump was elected. Members of Congress have seemingly said “fuck”, “shit”, “bitch” and “asshole” nearly 1900 times this year compared with a mere 193 times in 2016.
I am not entirely sure that we can blame it all on POTUS however. It seems to me that people are more ready to use coarse and aggressive language, just as they are more ready to be physically abusive and aggressive, than ever they used to be.
Another factor to take into account is that Members of Congress are probably using Twitter more than they did before. Not only do they have a president who appears to govern via social media but it seems to be de rigueur to have a social media presence. Anyone who is anyone tweets and twitters.
By that rule, I am no-one.
Then there is Lisa Bloom, lawyer, who was hired by Harvey Weinstein for $895 an hour to help him whitewash his reputation when accusations against him started to surface. She advised him on tactics to “shut down” the accusations, how to appear publicly repentant, to do things like pledge a $5m scholarship fund for female film makers at the University of Southern California. Wow, she was a women’s advocate as well!
She has since said her involvement was a “colossal mistake” but maybe she was just swept away by the colossal fees involved!
The French might win today’s prize for odd stories though. A Frenchman recently died from a heart attack after having adulterous sex during a work trip. A French court has ruled that his death was a “workplace accident”. His employers argued that the man interrupted work for the rendezvous but the court decided that sex was part of everyday life , “like having a shower or a meal”. Perhaps more importantly, the worker’s family would receive a better pension and other help.
Only in France!
I was going to express my relief at being British and not being odd at all but then I remembered that we are going through the continuing nonsense that is Brexit. Living in our current mad glasshouse we have no right to throw stones at anyone else.