Geese of manifold varieties – these are what I think of as “politician birds”. They’re all about noise, bull, bluster and flapping around, usually in the safety of their own gangs. They’re bullies, and they are about as demanding as it gets – open the side-hatch looking out over the canal and the geese will be there sooner than you can say “feed us or the kitten gets it”.
They are like the sheep of the air; one takes off and they all follow. Flap flap flap, honk honk honk, there’s not an independent thought among them.
Where they congregate in numbers – open stretches of water, the various subsidised bars and restuarants of The Palace of Westminster – despite having absolutely empty heads they have much to say for themselves, and they say it loudly.
Discussing the positive epistemological aspects of the shared experience of the a cappella singing of Renaissance and early Baroque madrigals they are not. I do wonder if, should it ever be translated, most of this goose-honk clatter and noise would have to rendered in thoroughly pithy Anglo-Saxon, the sort of goose equivalent of Tinder. Hello darling, fancy coming back to my nest for a meaningful thirty-second-long relationship based on mutual respect and pizza?
They bully and intimidate any bird smaller than themselves, although I notice that, like all bullies, they are cowards – the biggest swans rule without question, the pecking order then follows on down through in reducing size.
Mind you, these ones do have a cross to bear. I think that these are the rare Sodbucket’s White Goosies With-The-Silly-Nasal-Arangement. They can’t, surely, expect to be taken seriously when they have a nose that looks for all the world like the seriously sunburnt todging-tackle of a small terrier dog?
I suppose that even here the “politician” analogy bears up – most of Westminster has facial arrangements ideally suited to appearances on the wireless radio.
Nope, oh they may give tourist value for money, being bought in by the pound, but they’re not birds for me. Give me a lapwing or a moorhen or a sparrow or any of the smaller feathered thingummies any day. The ones with true individuality, or the tiny little specks of life that somehow survive in the hedgerows are the heroes in my eye. The birds that just get on with life instead of making a racket and a song and dance about everything, those are the birds that get my vote.
Even the crows and the seagulls have more purpose – and more poise – about them than geese.
What exactly is it that geese do? Does anyone know? They toil not, neither do they spin – and I suspect that Solomon’s interest would only be piqued by the juxtposition of some sauce à l’orange and a few roast spuds.
Don’t misunderstand me, a goose is a goose is a goose and how it lives its life is nothing to do with me. It’s just that there’s so very little that is subtle about them. They seem to me to be the blunt instruments, m’lud, of the avian world.
I will say this for them though. When one goes, they all go.
Then the other wildlife can creep back out and get on once more with the business of living on and around the water.
Squirrels paddling up and down in their little coracles. Hedgehogs hogging the hedges. Rat families abandoning their little towels and piles of clothing on the bank as they dive in and practice their backstroke. Stoats and weasels snorkelling past, their presence betrayed only by the cheery yellow breathing pipes and the occasional flash of goggle. Warblers, Tits and Yellow-Breasted Knee-Tremblers flinging themselves from trees, para-gliding from bush to shrub, parachuting from oak, beech, birch and chestnut to the towpath. Nightingales, robins and batmen, flapping their cloaks and hopping around like little super-heroes.
Oh, it all happens hereabouts, you know. Real life breaks out – the same process as happens with humans when politicians remove their beaks from everyone else’s business.
It’s harsh, possibly, but come the revolution, when I am Lord High He-Who (Must Be Obeyed), I shall order that the lampposts are decorated democratically, alternating politician with goose. We should be able to use thinner rope with the geese.
How peaceful the world will then be, eh?