Sunday, 28 May 2017

I long to go down to the sea again

At 5.30 this morning, I looked out of the window and saw three gulls lying dead in the road. Two were last year's brood as I saw from their remaining brown feathers, and one was a breeding adult.

The next door restaurant puts out bin liners full of such tasty morsels that the gulls just cannot resist ripping them open to pull them out and squabble over the bounty. My guess is that the adult was busy scaring away the two juveniles, so didn't notice the car speeding round the bend until it was too late. Three in one hit. That's good going, especially since all of them were killed outright - thankfully. I didn't want to have to go down to finish a flapping one off.

An early rising Chinese tourist couple walked past, and the woman posed right next to them with the view of Great Pulteney Street providing a backdrop. She even struck a crappy pose before they noticed the dead gulls and walked away.

Then this man in the photo above turned up. I think he was Eastern European and I think he has some issues to do with his mental health, but I could be wrong on both counts.

He stopped and looked at them for a while, then walked to the middle of the road where they lay, picking each one up and carefully folding their wings against the bodies before placing them in the gutter in the neat diagonal row you can see above.

He spent about 15 minutes with them, performing some sort of heart-felt ceremony, stroking each one tenderly, muttering words, holding his arms outstretched with palms turned upwards as he addressed the flock of living gulls which circled above as they gave off alarm-calls.

He stepped back a few paces to where you see him in the picture, and spent some more minutes in silent vigil. Then he walked away to God knows where.

I hope I will receive as much respect when I die as this homeless man showed to the three gulls, even if it is only from one person.


  1. You know, the more I think about it, the more I think he may be a troubled war veteran who actually knows the value of life, no matter in what form it appears - or disappears.

  2. I found this such a moving post, thank you.

    It also reminded me of a post on another website which observed that after the Manchester bombing Theresa May announced she would put soldiers on our streets but in fact they were already there (among the homeless).

    1. I heard recently that the amount of ex soldiers who are on the streets and homeless has been exaggerated, but I don't know. There are police walking around Bath with machine-guns these days.

  3. Yes, that is very poignant, and I think you could be right, the way he is standing to attention in front of them. Strangely moving on this Sunday evening. Thank you.

  4. Simple and heartfelt respect for life, and a proper goodbye when it's left behind.

  5. A very moving story. I hope he is rewarded somehow for his care.

  6. What a beautiful moment to have had the privilege of witnessing.

  7. I love that. Perhaps a gull in another life, or an angel unawares.