Eric Shackle: Pecked by a Pesky Pelican
Pecked by a Pesky Pelican
(an alliterative avian attack)
By Eric Shackle, in Sydney, Australia
In my time I've suffered absolute acute agony after an attack by an angry and aggressive ant, been bitten by a bellicose bull-ant, clawed by a cunning, calculating cat, savaged by a sneaky, snarling schnauzer, and received painful injuries from other members of the animal kingdom. But I'm still fond of most animals.
Oscar Brittle, of Killara, loves them, too... when they're cooked. He recently boasted to the Sydney Morning Herald (Column 8): "I believe that I have eaten more types of animal than anybody else on the planet. I have eaten (not necessarily in this order): cow, sheep, pig, shark, goat, camel, horse, kangaroo, wallaby, wallaroo, potoroo, bandicoot, duck, chicken, pigeon, whale, wild dog, wild cat, cat, fish, catfish, dormouse, python, toad, turtle, monkey, impala, sea urchin, slug, jellyfish, fox, grouse, alligator, llama, vulture, mole, lobster, mongoose, daddy-long-legs, salamander …"
Next day, Sid Walker, of Old Bar, told the columnist: "Oscar may have strange eating habits, but one professor at Oxford in the 1850s, William Buckland, tried to eat specimens of every living thing. He found mole to be the nastiest, followed by bluebottle."
But that's by the way. Let's get back on track.
There I was, seated at a table outside a waterfront fish and chips joint at Woy Woy (80km north of Sydney) at peace with the world, devouring a choice piece of fried fresh fish held elegantly in my fingers, when suddenly, out of the blue, you might say, a 50cm. (20in.) beak appeared from behind my left shoulder and clamped on my hand. In a flash, the fish had gone, and I was left with a bleeding wrist.
This unprovoked attack by a pernicious and possibly pestilential pelican momentarily surprised a friend sitting opposite me and other customers, who then burst into heartless laughter, but I, like Queen Victoria, was not amused.
I shambled into the shop, and a lovely lass behind the counter hustled me into a back room and applied a bandaid. No big deal, I gathered from her attitude. Apparently she was quite accustomed to treating foolhardy fishlovers.
Walking outside, I noticed all too late a sign bearing this warning:
PELICANS MAY BITE
DON'T FEED THE PELICANS
THEY MAY MISTAKE YOUR HAND FOR FOOD
SCRAPS ARE NOT GOOD FOR THEM
(OR THE SEAGULLS)
FISHERMEN'S WHARF TAKES NO RESPONSIBILITY
FOR THE PELICANS BEHAVIOUR
FISHERMEN'S WHARF WILL NOT REPLACE LOST FOOD
THANK YOU FOR YOUR CO-OPERATION
is an edited version of an illustrated story in the July
edition of The World's First Multi-National e-Book, http://bdb.co.za/shackle