Pigeon

I’ve always had a soft spot for pigeons. There were present in my childhood, circling the skies, as various local people kept racing pigeons. Our family even had three “adopted” pigeons — Walter, Snowdrop and Zoomer — who would report to our garden on-schedule every evening for feed. Walter even took to a bird house my dad installed outside my bedroom window.

It turns out that the pigeon may even be the bird of Escapologists. I came across this lovely passage today in The Once and Future King, written by T. H. White who knew his birds:

“The pigeon”, said Archimedes, “is a kind of Quaker. She dresses in grey. A dutiful child, a constant lover, a wise parent, she knows, like all philosophers that the hand of man is against her. She has learned throughout the centuries to specialize in escape. No pigeon has ever committed an act of aggression nor turned upon her persecutors: but no bird, likewise, is so skillful in eluding them. She has learned to drop out of a tree on the opposite side to man, and fly low so that there is a hedge between them. No other bird can estimate a range so well. Vigilant, powdery, odorous and loose-feathered — so that dogs object to take them in their mouths — armoured against pellets by the padding of these feathers, the pigeons coo to one another with true love, nourish their cunningly hidden children with true solicitude, and flee from the aggressor with true philosophy — a race of peace lovers continually caravanning away […] They are loving individualists surviving against the forces of massacre only by wisdom in escape.”

Please support New Escapologist on Patreon.

About

Robert Wringham is a humorist and the editor-in-chief of New Escapologist.

One Response to “Pigeon”

  1. Jo says:

    I love pigeons. They’re nature’s recylists – they don’t waste a thing – and as such may be an unwitting friend to humans putting up as they do with all our crap. What do they get in return though? A bit of bread – if they’re lucky and can fight off the crows and seagulls – and our contempt. I’m not sure I’d be able to break bread with anyone who described a pigeon as flying vermin. Does it dent their pride though? Not a bit of it. Pigeons may be the underdogs of the bird world but their chests are puffed high. They might eat our shit but they clearly don’t give a shit – except when they splat on our cars and in our hair. But even then it’s supposed to be lucky. It’s well known that carrier pigeons during World War II refused to shit on Hitler and look what happened to him. If I was had to choose any creature who represented the ability to stand one’s ground while flying high, freedom and the Zen-like acceptance that everything will be alright, it would be the pigeon. They’re probably God’s favourite bird but don’t tell the turkeys that – the poor sods think it’s them.

Leave a Reply

Latest issues and offers

1-7

Issues One to Seven

A bundle of our first seven issues. Featuring minimalism, Houdini, Leo Babauta, Bohemianism, Alain de Botton, Sartre, and Tom Hodgkinson. 567 pages. £35.

8-11

Issues Eight to Thirteen

A bundle of our last six issues. Featuring Luke Rhinehart, Flaubert, Mr Money Mustache, part-time work, Will Self, home life, Richard Herring, and E. F. Schumacher. 593 pages. £30.

Issue Thirteen

Our final edition. Featuring an interview with celebrity mortician Caitlin Doughty; Matt Caulfield on zen fool Ryokan; and Reggie C. King on David Bowie and Sun Ra. 122 pages. £7.

Escape Everything!

A hardbacked guide to scarpering. Essential reading for wage slaves and slugabeds alike. Published by Unbound. 230 pages. £12.