Pigeon-feeding inflation

The cost of feeding the birds has gone up a lot. It only cost Mary Poppins tuppence a bag, but in Trafalgar Square today it’ll cost you £500, according to an aggressively-worded sign that confronted me as I left the National Gallery the other day.

Now I’m sure there are sensible, practical reasons for this rule. I’m sure that the pigeons spread all kinds of terrible diseases, and that the government had to spend millions of pounds cleaning all the shit off Nelson’s hat. But the thing is, I’m not a very sensible, practical person. I prefer the pigeon-carpeted Trafalgar Square of my childhood to the sanitised urban space I see now. As a child I used to love chasing the pigeons and watching them flutter up into the sky, and standing in the square as an adult I wished I could have seen a child running around doing the same thing.

It made me wonder whether this is the way London is going in general. More rules and regulations, more safety and cleanliness, but in each apparently sensible regulation a steady chipping away at the soul of the city. Can a city be ruined by too much sense? I know that when I lived in New York, a lot of people there were nostalgic for the old city, dirtier and more dangerous, but somehow more alive.

So what do you think? Would you prefer to live in a clean, well-regulated city? Or one with more beauty and more surprises, but also more shit and disease?


  1. Charles Anasco 23 December 2010 at 3:48 am

    That is a steep fine. I think I saw a few of those warnings in London myself. I remember someone pointing it out when we ate lunch at a very small park. Fortunately I was not very tempted. I fed some about a month ago in downtown Salt Lake and it was interesting to watch how aggressive and bold they became over the bread.

    If you every feel like reliving that sort of thing as of February of 2006 you could still find plenty of plazas in Madrid filled with pigeons. I was a bit to old to be scattering pigeons but I couldn’t help myself. 🙂

  2. Michelle Davidson Argyle 28 December 2010 at 6:00 pm

    Wow. I won’t be anticipating feeding the pigeons if I ever make it over there…. I sure do hope I can at least meet you. 🙂


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