There's a lot of nasty stuff going on in London today: just check out this evening's Extra Extra post if you need convincing. But one tale of gang crime stood out amongst the others for its barbarity, its bravery and ultimately its pathos.
This one has everything: a young chap, alone, tired, and lost in a rival ghetto. A vicious, merciless gang hellbent on evicting any unlucky soul who dared to stray on to their turf. A chase through the airways and waterways of the capital, one so breath-takingly terrifying and with such great special effects that even Bond producers would be hard put to rival it. Heart-stopping moments when it looked as if our hero would be lost, beaten and terrified, under the waves. And the derring-do of his rescuers, as they brought him on board their boat, and whisked him to safety. Finally, the happy denouement, as our chief protagonist was comforted in his hour of need, and perhaps fed some dead mice, before being set on the right path home.
Dead mice? Yup. The lost dude in this sorry urban tale is in fact a buzzard. A very confused buzzard called Eric. And his gangsta assailants were a squabble of seagulls, who pecked and whooshed and shrieked at him until he ended up flapping around in the Thames. His knights in shining life-jackets were officers from the Met's Marine Unit, who rescued him and took him to the RSPCA. Eric was subsequently released and flew off into the sunset on Sunday.
Mobbing by birds is a pretty common sight in the capital, but the buzzard is not. And whilst gulls are notoriously bad-tempered, and not averse to dive-bombing tourists for food, it is more often the odious crow that demonstrates mobbing behaviour. This was an odd incident, and Eric is one lucky buzzard. 'Spect Pixar will be knocking on his tree-trunk any moment.