By Tim Law

They call me the pigeon man, and I guess they are not wrong. I left my family home back in the eighties when my wife suddenly died. I walked the streets of old London Town for a bit before I made a new home with others like me. We hung out around Trafalgar Square after dark, when the tourists left each day. We were attracted like magnets to the thought of protection and comradery, safety in numbers, you know how it is… Share and share alike, and a whole bunch of other clichés.

I would often walk past my spot during the day to keep an eye on it, do the rounds, waste some time. In between grabbing cups of coffee plus free internet at the Library and begging for a crust from Joe’s Bakery there is very little that can keep my mind active each day. Or so I thought. All of that changed on the day that I truly noticed the pigeons.

Rats of the sky we call them, perhaps that’s true, they seem to be everywhere. Grey and white, green and almost blue, not the prettiest of birds and certainly not the friendliest. They fight for even the smallest crumb and on many an occasion I’ve had one steal my dinner. I never noticed them at first, our only interactions when I told them to shoo from my spot. As the signs went up though telling people to stop feeding the birds I saw the poor things starve. They were just like my friends, but with wings. No home to call their own, yet home was everywhere. Safety in numbers, grey, drab. Every day I saw my new family but in bird form. Every night I felt more and more like a pigeon myself as I gathered with the rest of the flock.

Some nights the boys in blue would stop by to move us on, just like the many who shooed the pigeons away each day and complained about the poo. We scattered just like they do, not wanting to feel the sting of boot or baton. Just like them we hated to hear the shouts, the gruff voices that threatened what may happen if they were not obeyed. As we scattered my eyes opened wider. I discovered other creatures who still made the city their home. Rabbits, hares, foxes too. There were cats and dogs, rats and mice, a true menagerie of critters all just trying to survive like me.

I realised then that I had a better way of filling my days. I found the little holes where the critters hide away. I bothered to learn the location of the fox’s den and the rabbit’s warren. I found the markets and just how well a shared cigarette or two can help befriend the guys that work those stalls each day. Fish not so fresh still fills a fox belly. Wilted vegetables or fresh, both are nibbled just as gratefully, and bread half stale is still a treat for a hungry man, bird, or mouse.

They call me the pigeon man, but I’m happy to say my purpose now is more than that. I feed the hungry, be they winged, pawed, or otherwise. I feed the creatures of the streets, my friends of Trafalgar Square, and last of all I feed myself. Those things you throw away I am thankful for, those things you refuse to buy I need. For that I want to say thank you to you. For without you we would not survive. That which you refuse is that which we desire.

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