Ye gods (Greek and Roman) – am I to be allowed to retain not a jot of dignity? Going ten rounds with a swan. #narrowboat #boating

I’ve been hissed at before, I’ve been flapped at before, but this is the first time that I have ever come to physical blows with a swan.

Errands to run.

Towpath, no alternative route.

No alternative return route, either, damn it.

Mr Swan, anxious to not look like a Dilbert in front of Mrs Swan and the kids, claims ownership of the towpath – which is somewhat narrow at that point.

I have not one but two opposable thumbs, and my species invented the wheel. If anyone thinks that I am somehow honour-bound to chance my life on the (pavement-free) (full of speeding lorries) Chester A-Road simply to maintain a swan’s notion of “safe space” then that person has another think coming.

I gave them every possible opportunity to slip into the water – or to share the towpath nicely with me.


To sum up all ten rounds of the fixture:

  1. It was Mr Swan who insisted on the contest in spite of my best endeavours to avoid, escape and defuse the situation.
  2. I punch like a big girl’s blouse, especially when I am trying to hold the moral high-ground by pulling my punches.
  3. think that I may have squealed a bit during rounds five and six.
  4. Mr Swan won’t take “look – I am retreating” for an answer.

Mr Swan also attacks from behind, and he just keeps on coming back for more.

On my return from my errands Mr & Mrs Swan and the kids were, I thought, safely in the water, on the far side of the wide canal. Phew. Thanks and praise be to Ruddybiggus Nastybirdicus, the Roman god of foul waterfowl.

Hah! Not a bit of it, Mr Swan came paddling over, very eager indeed for a re-match.

Why do folk like swans? They are even more nasty, bad-tempered and over-territorial creatures than are humans. I may have “won” the match (by standing my ground, twice, and not getting my arm broken – swans do that, apparently they enjoy breaking arms) but I don’t even get any “glory” for my successful self-defence, just some awful, awful guilt at having been forced to gut-punch an overgrown sparrow.

It’s all wrong, just so wrong. I may be 6′-&-a-smidge tall and built like a Chieftain Tank GTi, but a fully-grown swan, such as this little …darling… has a 6′ plus wing-span, and a beak on a long neck. Why do I feel so guilty for defending myself from an unprovoked attack in a public space?

I should add that there are – as far as I know – no photographs of the altercation, since I was a little bit busy doing other things – with both hands. The swan shown above is the previous nasty, belligerent swanosaurus-rex who had a go and then waddled along the towpath after me for seconds while I was near the town of Middlewich a week or two ago.

Ruddy wildlife. Don’t they know that I am a vegetable-aryan?

Moreover, vegetable-aryan because I love animals*.

[*Spiders, snakes, anything that blinks sideways and/or has “feelers” or chitinous bodywork or stingers/poison-glands excepted.]

I may in future suspend this rule where swans are concerned.

May I respectfully submit the following for mass consideration:

Swan rosted. Cut a Swan in the rove of the mouthe toward the brayne enlonge, and let him blede, and kepe the blode for chawdewyn, or elles knytte a knot on his nek, and so late his nekke breke, then skald him. Drawe him and roast him even as thou doest goce in a poyntes, and serve him fort wit chawd-wine.

According to CaRT “life’s better by water“.

Seriously, what the Hell would they know about it?

Ian H., Thoroughly discomnobulated.

More damned bruises that I shall have to somehow explain to my Social Worker.

Where’s my P.T.S.D.? Where’s my compensation? What are the symptoms of “bird-flu” and can a chap catch it from having a swan bite and hold onto his nose? Will the R.S.P.B. now kick in my bow doors, arrest me and put me through some sort of show-trial – and on what charge?



  1. Perhaps you need bigger ‘wings’ … take a brolly next time and flap the damn thing is his face. If nothing else it can be used to give him the thrashing his antics deserve. Now, go forth, good Sir, and do your species proud. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have not had swan, but I don’t imagine it’s tender to eat. Still, think of the satisfaction of it.

    Good on you for standing your ground. I would suggest a shot gun, but I guess Her Majesty might get a bit irate if you kill her swan.

    But a dignified letter of complain to the Queen on the subject of Her birds seems in order. Someone needs to give the damn birds a good talking to.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I rang Lizzie immediately after the incident, and she’s sent out a footman to catch the beast. Something about “centrepiece of the next banquet”…

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Ruddy academics – bet they’ve never spent fifty metres of a walk (twice) trying to get a 33lb swan off their back!

      When he first began with the serious posturing I raised my arms, flapped my jacket and out-hissed him… that usually works, but this one was a psycho. I think that perhaps a mace or pepper spray is called for. When I spoke to locals about it they confirmed that most people who use that towpath receive the swanosaurus rex welcome.

      The next time we meet I’ll be on my boat, and he’ll HAVE to move out of my way! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Maybe you should inform CRT, they may need to add it to their stoppages.
    Raised a small giggle, so glad you see the funny side of it. Swans look serene, beautiful, majestic even, but once on the bad side of one – I really fear for your future on your current locale.
    PS Arm breaking is an urban myth – never been known to happen. Now capsizing canoes. That is a fact.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This swan works for the local mob, breaking any bones that the Boss requests is his speciality…

      Seriously, I just don’t like ’em – all gimme gimme gimme when they beg at an open side-hatch, but all wing-span and flap and fluster when they think you’re somehow in their space. The sooner they’re all barbecue the better! 😉


  4. Swans KNOW when (as well as how) they can get the upper hand with humans, Ian – and I can vouch for them being vindictive creatures – He’ll have his oversized avian eyes (beak, wings and webbed feet) on you from now on 🦢🦢🦢🦢🦢

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What’s the swan equivalent of anatidaephobia? Things might be different when next we meet, Mr Swan and I, for I shall be heading that way in my boat… (and, of course, I will as always slow down even more, give the wildlife plenty of room and hope to goodness that he doesn’t hop aboard for another go)! I shall have to affect some need for a stout “walking” stick, methinks… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

Comments are closed.