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The Curch of 
Euthanasia



"They didn't used to be here like this, not so many of them leastways. And what there was used to follow the fishing boats, follow them right into the harbour. Not that there's the fish out there now, the herrings have gone like the pilchards before them. What boats there are go out of Newlyn, and the gulls don't get much of a look in, what with the new market and those refrigerated lorries taking the fish off god knows where, France, Spain, ridiculous really, you'd think they'd have their own fish, wouldn't you, not bother about ours. But the gulls, they stayed right here, breeding like buggery. Look around you in the spring, every roof's got a pair of them. Of course you can eat the eggs, though I wouldn't, not when you've seen what they eat, anything. You'd think some bright spark in one of the restaurants would have had the idea of putting gulls' eggs on the menu. Pink inside, not yellow. Local speciality along with pasties and fudge. Emmetts'll eat anything, just like gulls. Some folk boil the eggs and put them back, and the stupid bird will sit on them all through the summer. Risky business though, doing that, likely to get your eyes pecked out. Did you know a few years back someone at the Town Hall had this idea of cutting down the numbers, put out a request for help, but so many people turned out with guns, nets, poison, catapults, anything you could think of, they called it off because they thought they'd polish the lot of them off, and what would the tourists feed their chips to then, oh? Of course, some of the people here actually like them. One or two of those artists, for instance. As far as they're concerned gulls live on some kind of higher plane. Emblems of a spiritual order, one of them said to me once. I said to him, "You should see your emblems of spiritual whatsit scoff a mackerel twice their size. The bugger gets halfway in and sticks there on the hooks at the back of the gull's throat until the front half's digested and it can swallow the rest." Spiritual my arse, 'scuse my French. Tell you the worst thing about them, it's that pecking at the bin bags in the middle of the bleeding night. It's enough to send your round the twist. And in the morning, you should see the mess, everything pulled out the holes they've made and strewn all over the place. Me, I'd shoot the lot of them. Have you noticed, there are practically no other birds here? The reason for that is the seagulls eat the eggs and the chicks. Charming. I'll tell you something, maybe I shouldn't, but there's one way to finish off the buggers. Get a bit of bread, cover it in baking powder, and throw it to them. As soon as that baking powder hits their stomach juices it starts to fizz, and the next thing you know the gull's exploded, whoomph. In mid-air, I wouldn't want to be under it at the time, it's bad enough being shat on by the things, though they say it's lucky. Never brought me any luck, and it's happened hundreds of times, usually after I've had my hair done. You had it happen to you too? Well, maybe it'll bring you luck. You remember the film The Birds? Or were you too young? You do? Then you'll remember the bit when the gull swoops down and pecks the girl, can't recall her name, and she puts her hand up to her head and pulls it away with blood on the finger of her white glove. That Hitchcock, he changed it to California, probably because it was close to Hollywood, but the original story, that was set right here in Cornwall. Daphne du Maurier wrote it. Lovely woman. She didn't have any fancy ideas about seagulls, that's for sure. I started to read that Jonathan Livingstone Seagull once. Made me sick. Stupid bugger, I thought. I'll tell you the book to read if you want to really know about seagulls. It's by a French bloke, Michel Tournier his name is, it's here in the library. It's called Gemini, which means twins. There was this garbage dump somewhere in the south of France. During the night the rats have it to themselves, but then when it starts to get light, the seagulls come back and the rats head for cover in their burrows, except for a few stragglers who get caught by the gulls. In the evening it's the other way round, gulls flying off, the slow ones getting grabbed by the rats. Here it's gulls, night or day. Maybe we need a few rats to even things up a bit. Did you read in the paper the other day about this new yuppie disease, comes from rat's urine, so they said? It seems waterskiers are getting it. There was something in today's paper about radioactive rats in a power station somewhere in Wales. Next thing we'll have radioactive seagulls, shouldn't be surprised. Or a new form of skin cancer from being shat on by them. I shouldn't say things like that really, but you don't know anything anymore, do you? But here am I, rabbitting on, when all you've come in for is your pastie. That'll be 53 pence. Thank you, my 'andsome." Michael Westlake 1989