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Friday 9 December 2016

The Week in Radio: I, for one, welcome the seagull overloards

A 999 caller urged police to use CCTV to track down the seagull that stole his sandwich
A 999 caller urged police to use CCTV to track down the seagull that stole his sandwich

I’m old enough to remember the glory days of undisputed human dominance when they were content to be followers.

Followers of trawlers. Followers of trawlers who’d contentedly gollop scraps of sardine flung back into the sea. Inoffensive creatures who’d obligingly permit Eric Cantona to shoe-horn them into half-baked aphorisms without a squawk. Good sports, basically, who knew their place.

But that was before they started to lose “the run of themselves completely” (as ahead-of-his-time Senator Ned O’Sullivan ominously put it 12 long months ago).

Before they started brazenly whipping lollipops out of the gobs of bawling and petrified kiddies. Before they started chucking our phones into ponds (out of pure delinquent spite).

Before they shat on Amanda Brunker. Before they tried to kill Bressie. Before we woke up to the full extent of the avian apocalypse brewing o’er our heads.

“A big conversation needs to happen,” David Cameron recently said. And he didn’t just mean one of those general, free-wheeling big conversations either (fun as they are).

He wants a specific conversation. One of large size. One about seagulls — in case you hadn’t guessed — and our complacency regarding their plans to gleefully peck us to death in our beds before enslaving our children in their salt mines. And they don’t even like salt. They’re just bastards.

Nobody could accuse Senator Denis O’Donovan of gull-related complacency. “It’s coming to the stage where they’re actually endangering society,” he warned, in the Seanad, the other day.

On Tuesday’s The Brendan

O’Connor Show he was backtracking... slightly. “I must correct that on the record,” he said. “They’re no danger to society.” Phew! “They’re a danger to children.” Oh...

He went on to paint a not-especially-dystopian picture of tourists being dispossessed of their baps, and of gulls rummaging through bin bags on Nassau Street, before reaching for the big guns.

“Some day, a seagull will scoop [sic] down and take something from a child’s hands or mouth and they could injure that child,” said Denis. And just like that, seagull sympathisers suddenly seemed not just cynical and/or deluded, but monstrously indifferent to the welfare of children.

O’Donovan appeared to mollify the message a tad with some “I’m very fond of seagulls” and some, “I don’t have a difficulty per se with seagulls”. “Some of my best friends are seagulls!” he didn’t quite say, but it was touch and go.

Dissent

Was this all just a bit of “I’m not racist, but...” style disingenuity, or did it suggest that the gulls had — after his provocative Seanad performance — got to him? By nicking his biscuits, say? Or by crapping on his car?

Whatever the case, it’s clear that they’ll brook no dissent, and that we’re all doomed, and that the halcyon days of enjoying al fresco baps in peace are now forever behind us.

In the short time we have left then — before this piece finishes and the gulls seize total control — let’s be thankful for those few human things that are actually good.

Like the works of Judy Blume. Or Judy Blume herself (clearly a human thing).

She followed up a delightful appearance at Dun Laoghaire’s Pavilion theatre (on Sunday) with a delightful appearance on Monday’s The Anton Savage Show, where, among other things, she talked censorship, conservative backlash, penises named ‘Ralph’, and the writing of non-judgemental novels where “two nice kids fall in love... do it, and nobody has to die.”

The Brendan O'Connor Show, RTE Radio 1, Weekdays

The Anton Savage Show, Today FM, Weekdays

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