Thursday, April 03, 2008

An Indignity in Holland Park

Walking in Holland Park just now, minding my own business and enjoying the cherry blossom, my reverie was rudely shattered by a passing bird which - sorry, there's no other way of putting it - beshat my head from a considerable height. A far as I can recall, this has only once happened to me before - in Dieppe, when an aggrieved mouette struck a blow against perfidious Albion by similarly anointing my head. What manner of bird the culprit was this time I didn't see - perhaps it was a cormorant bent on revenge. This is war.


  1. The only time it's ever happened to me was in France -- sitting outside Balzac's house on the lip of a fountain. I was aghast as it was a major splatter and happened ten minutes before a lunch reservation at a pricy resto. My husband (then boyfriend) found my predicament hilarious, and had there been much water in the fountain, I might have drowned him.

  2. Michael Winner lives just round the corner from there. You should have popped down and asked him whether he sells shite insurance. Anyway, look on the birght side: it must have been a very small bird. Otherwise you could have been up for a Darwin Award, like that zookeeper who was buried alive while trying to administer an olive oil enema to his constipated elephant. Chin up!

  3. Proves my point, Susan - those xenophobic gulls don't like les Americains either.
    I must say, though, that since the anointing, my hair has been looking uncommonly sleek and glossy - I might pass this beauty tip on to celebrity beauty journalist Nadine Baggott.

  4. Having lived on the north and west side of HP, you need to explain just how different from the Royal parks or any city park that it is, and how it depends on where one enters the area, the mood it will extract.
    I have never entered the area from the east (Campden Hill) or the south (Ken High) without feeling pissed off with the world. Had I entered from either E or S, and a bird shat, it was bloody personal. While W or N, an amusing inclusion in a beautiful day.

  5. Holland Park is indeed psychogeographically unique, Vince, though personally I find it very cheering to enter from S or E - those are my usual ins. I don't care for the bleak stretch running N from the High St to the remains of the House (it was on that stretch that the bird bombed me), but coming in from the E via the Duchess of Bedford's Walk delivers you straight to a real focal point of the park.
    I think the beauty of HP is that it's several parks in one, most of them rather wonderful and all of them quite unlike other London parks.

  6. We have a far more refined class of avian crapper up here in the land of scoffed porridge.
    The local moorhen mob regularly use the top of our septic tank as their pooplatz.
    I leave out bogrolls (Tescos finest mark you), one day they will get the point.
    The finest quality birdcrap emanates forth from skuas. On a trip to Handa island years ago we were bombed by a group of them. Returning to the(small open) boat we were cordially invited to sit at the back.

  7. Nige, you reek (if you will pardon the expression) of park in sons ailment, may I invite you to peruse what, in my humble opinion, is Europe's finest.
    The English park In Wiesbaden (Frankfurt airport 45 mins) runs from the Kurhaus (casino, allegedly built by the same wallah that built Monte Carlo), up to the village of Sonenburg, approx. 3 kilometers.
    This park is long and fairly narrow and is a joy to walk through in any season.
    One has to take care and avoid the Gucci laden Jerry power walkers but apart from this, a real treat.
    Unlike Paris (misc museums surrounded by 200,000 tonnes of dogshit), the park is canine crap free, the Germans, as usual, organise things very well on that front.
    Wiesbaden nestles at the foot of the Taunus and Sonenburg is in the Taunus.
    It was left alone during the last big stooshie because the Yanks wanted it as their HQ. Eventually they used Frankfurt so Wiesbaden is a delightful Victorian watering hole, in original condition.
    Sonenburg was for some years the home of Malty junior.

  8. To be shat on by a bird is considered good luck apparently.

  9. Exactly, Nige. The light in the place is managed, but for the person who is walking. In the Royal Parks for the person in a carriage or on horseback. These days the only people who see KPG or HP are in vans.
    You have to smile at the gall of the people who designed with the Sun in mind. And the attendant birds. For they knew that bird-shit was a risk, not for them but for you and me. Pure hope to my mind.

  10. We really have to admire the accuracy of the bird, Nige. You say that you were hit from a considerable height. So the bird had to take account of wind speed and then calculate drift, compute your walking speed and whether you were proceeding in a constant or erratic, perhaps drunken, manner, take account of possible collateral damage to innocent passers-by, and finally decide weight of ammo. Little is as simple as it first appears.

  11. Blackburn town centre, sat by fountains, smug with a new brand of chocolate I had discovered.


    A strange mouthful prompts me to pick up and examine this exotic, clearly challenging confectionary from where I had laid it on the bench next to me.



    Tells the tale to my girlfriend who, unbeknownst to me, tells her teenage brother.

    Minding my own business in town a short while later I hear a shout from a bunch of lads whose attention I seem to have attracted:


  12. Never eat an ice cream on the seafront outside the Tate in St Ives. I was once hit, hard, on the back of the head by a seagull, which then flew off with my Mr Whippy. You have been warned.

  13. Behshat is a lovely word.

    I just wanted to say that my own head and shoulder were recently 'beshat' and like you, this took place in Holland Park. I was with a girl, inspecting the sundial (not a euphamism) when I was unloaded upon with a timing and accuracy the US airforce can only dream of.

    I suspect it's the hobby of one very vindictive bird.