Think of the poor birds

A gull perched on Christian missionary and explorer David Livingstone in Edinburgh. Photo credit: L Ross Sneddon/Unsplash

I MUST confess I’d never heard of Edward Colston until I saw footage of his statue going headfirst into the River Avon in Bristol on June 7.

My immediate reaction was ‘good riddance’ but after a moment’s reflection I thought: ‘No! Black Lives Matter have just destroyed a great pooping place for seagulls. In fact, after Colston was toppled, I found a picture on the Internet of a gull perched forlornly on the newly-vacated plinth. A further search revealed hundreds of images of birds roosting on the heads of the Great, the Good and, in the case of Colston, the Downright Despicable.
Where would the birds go if these were to be removed? To other perches, naturally, but I find the sight of gulls standing imperiously on the heads of statues and taking a dump highly amusing. They appeal to my sense of the absurd just as Monty Python sketches do. Image-mining also threw up a photo of a statue of the late great dictator Margaret Thatcher. It has one arm raised and is pointing a finger. The caption reads ‘the river’s over there. I want to go for a swim.’ A few days later, the same picture was used in a petition calling for the statue to be destroyed: ‘Let’s melt it down and make a nice bronze toilet to stick it in a public restroom. I’m sure we can all agree she’ll give more to humanity as a public potty than she actually did in Parliament.’
I signed it immediately for two reasons: No birds would be robbed of a roost as the statue is indoors at the House of Common, and because I have a visceral
hatred of a woman who, with her utterly corrupt lackeys, all but destroyed the social fabric of the UK. As I write this, pressure is mounting to have the statue of imperialist and white supremacist Cecil Rhodes removed from Oriel College in Oxford. While Rhodes was responsible for the expansion of the British Empire in southern Africa and wanted to rule the world, Colston was a 17th century slave-trader and a member of the Royal African Company which transported about 80,000 men, women and children from Africa to the Americas.
There’s a way, I believe, to defuse the anger raging around statues of loathsome individuals. What I would do is find some budding surrealists to change their faces into something resembling grotesque Picasso paintings, and attach to their plinths prominent plaques explaining just why these characters deserve nothing but contempt. It would be a marvellous way to teach history and combat racism.


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