Barely a week after a vicious gang attacked police officers in Croydon, we bring you another sobering tale of needless violence from the blighted borough: an unruly mob has caused £10,000 worth of damage to a 150-year old church in Shirley.
Before you get scribbling to the the papers with hand-wringing woes about the yoof of today, with their iPods and idiotic idioms and bulletproof hoodies, bear this in mind: the miscreants in this heinous crime were avian in nature, rose-ringed parakeets to be precise. The birds delight in pecking holes through the shingle of the church's wooden spire and nesting there, and parishioners have no idea how to stop them, with hand-clasped entreaties to Him Upstairs evidently falling on a deaf holy ear. One church warden described them as a "menace" who make "a dickens of a noise". Talk of a hawk scaring them away, a la the Trafalgar Square pigeons, was quashed as the pushy parakeets would probably attack it.
London's non-native parakeet population, thought to have thrived after being released from Shepperton Studios following the making of 1951 Bogart-Hepburn flick The African Queen, generally boss the skies around the city's southwestern climes, so this expansion into Croydon is troubling in that it indicates their territorial ambitions. Who will be next on their hit list - Haggerston's budgies, perhaps? When they start filling the skies en masse in Alfred Hitchcock's old manor of Leytonstone, that's when we'll really start to worry.