Gloucester is a city under enemy occupation, and soon the ranks of our oppressors will be swelled by a fresh regiment flapping in for the summer.
But the blockbuster, Gulls – The Return, will almost certainly have its lighter moments. Yet again we will be entertained by the wonderfully daft waffling of “experts” and the council’s desperate and always useless Laurel and Hardy-type efforts to make the feathered miscreants behave themselves.
This has all been going on for decades. Every year the Citizen is bombarded with complaints about noise and mess. There are also ideas for getting shot of the birds and 13 years ago this sort of correspondence became laugh-out-loud crazy.
In a series of letters some utterly barmy suggestions were made. The amazing thing is that these were taken seriously and even cropped up later in magazines and on telly.
Among other things readers were told that in Hong Kong gulls were enticed on to artificial cliffs, trapped and given to street vendors who sold gull meat with noodles. Why couldn’t Gloucester do that?
The really big story, however, sprang from the pen of ‘Lasse Viraanen’, who claimed that in his native Finland, gulls were kept at bay by placing on every roof a coop containing chickens – this because gulls have a morbid terror of the domestic birds.
Well, this one ran and ran, with much discussion about whether hens should be positioned on top of Shire Hall and other buildings. It was a delight to open the paper and discover yet another earnest contribution to the debate.
The whole thing was a hoax, of course, concocted by a couple of idle codgers over pints of real ale in the New Inn. The chief mischief maker was my boozing companion; I just added some artistic flourishes.
It gave us countless laughs; hours of entertainment. I only hope the same can be said of this year’s crop of gull nonsense, which, as sure as God’s in Gloucestershire, will soon come rolling in. Who knows? Lasse Viraanen himself might have another great idea.