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ALFIE COMBE: Bin suggestion may help put seagulls off

By North Devon Journal  |  Posted: May 11, 2012

SOLUTION: Dave Williams provided a potential answer to Ilfracombe's seagull problems.  Pictures: Rob Tibbles Ref: BNRT20110819F-006_C

SOLUTION: Dave Williams provided a potential answer to Ilfracombe's seagull problems. Pictures: Rob Tibbles Ref: BNRT20110819F-006_C

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IT SEEMS your humble narrator caused quite a stir with his opinionated seagull, sorry, herring gull rant a couple of weeks ago.

The backlash to my witty diatribe – in which I proposed these feathered fiends should be chemically castrated to curb their irritating behaviour – ranged from back-slapping encouragement to maniacal, throat-slitting opposition and everything in between.

As well as the numerous letters published in this fine periodical, there were a few sent directly to me that didn't quite make the cut.

However, in the interests of fairness (and comedy) I thought I'd share some of them with you.

One sympathetic penman, who was also sick of the cursed animals, explained the problem stemmed from the fact that the birds were a protected species and could not be killed, merely deterred.

He then proceeded to tell me, in some detail, a very specific method of dealing with gulls that resulted in them exploding.

I won't go into details, perhaps you understand why.

One furious female said my suggested solution to stop these saucy sea gulls mating by feeding them a neutering drug would result in releasing yet more chemical poisons into the ecosystem.

Instead, she proffered, it might be an idea to ban anyone putting their bin bags out in anything other than a closed, lidded bin.

Sorry love, that sounds far too much like common sense – it'd never work.

Another, who described herself as a seagull rights activist (!), placed the blame on our increasingly ill-mannered society and a population which will happily eat, vomit or fornicate in the streets.

I'm not entirely sure what the point was – but I loved the visual imagery.

Then there were those completely devoid of any sense of humour whatsoever who actually thought I was encouraging people to pull out their rifles, get down the pier and start taking indiscriminate pot-shots at anything that moved.

One even went as far as to suggest that our streets were already full of gun-toting lunatics just itching for another excuse to pull the trigger. This is Ilfracombe not Afghanistan, you delusional man!

However, I was delighted to read last week that some good has come of this whole business.

High Street Traders chairman Dave Williams made the seemingly straightforward observation that if the bins were collected earlier, the seagulls would have less time to strewn their contents all over our streets.

He astutely pointed out that this exact model proved successful when the MS Rotterdam moored on our fine shores last year (and if it's good enough for a boatload of Yanks, then surely it's good enough for us).

Not only did Dave make this suggestion, but North Devon Council only went and adopted it – a victory for both common sense and people power.

Of course, whether it works or not is a completely different matter and something only time can dictate.

One thing's for sure, I'll be keeping a close eye on the situation folks.

I couldn't leave you this week without sharing the revelation of a new musical prodigy whose incredible voice serenaded my aged lug-holes just last week.

Kiera Osment is an 11-year-old musician for whom big, big things are in store.

While some may already know about her incredible musical talents, I was freshly introduced to her audible aptitude at a recent Cook Island open mic night.

The second she opened her mouth my jaw hit the floor – someone that age should not be able to sing like that.

She had the mature, vocal style of a young Nora Jones or even a fledgling Adele.

As if her singing prowess wasn't impressive enough, it turns out she writes all her own material too, and has been doing so since the tender age of eight.

Both her composition and lyrics showed a maturity which would make musicians twice her age envious and, as if being an ace on the piano wasn't enough, she's also an extremely competent guitarist (which makes you sick when you realise she's only had a guitar since Christmas).

I cannot stress strongly enough how important it is for you to experience a performance from Kiera first hand. Get yourself up to Cook Island on a Thursday night, get some drinks in and prepare to be amazed!

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