To Be Frank, by Frank Edmonds, May 19, 2015

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It’s not very often I go off on one ... oh, all right then, but listen – I don’t go off on one half as much as some people in these very pages, now do I? Anyway, be that as it may (or may not), I feel I must protest, in the strongest possible terms (said Disgusted of Snettisham), about the utterly deplorable lack of road sense of one section of our community.

Birds. What? No, I don’t mean girls! Now look here, you relic of the Sixties, don’t you know you can be clapped in irons for calling young ladies “birds” these days? Tsk! Honestly! Some people!

Although having said that, I had to laugh when I saw a sticker in the rear window of a car the other day. In huge, lurid pink, day-glo letters, it said: “Do you realise you’ve just been overtaken by a GIRL?!” Nice one, darlin’! Er, sorry, I mean madam!

But I digress. Quite dangerously, I think. I wasn’t talking about the roadcraft of members of the fairer sex (can you even call them that now? You can, can’t you?). No, I mean our little feathered friends. The ones that normally fly about. Which is where they should stay, really, because when it comes to crossing the road, their sense of road safety is shocking.

I was driving along, minding my own business recently, when suddenly I came upon a woodpigeon in the middle of the road. I don’t know what he was doing there – I didn’t like to ask. But do you think he would get out of the way?

You would think a simple sense of danger would kick in, at least – but no. But then – and I’m sorry, but this has to be said – woodpigeons are notoriously stupid. All their brains seem to be able to focus on is stuffing their beaks. And before you say that reminds you of someone, I’ll just add that this one did, at the last possible moment, eventually clear off, and I’ll move swiftly on.

But they’re not alone, see. Take collared doves. Now, I have a lot of time for collared doves. True, they do make what has been described before now as an infernal cooing noise, and at times this does go on for a quite extraordinarily long time – but I still like them.

We had a bit of a rat problem in the garden a few years back. The woodpigeons – who let’s face it, are twice the size of the average ratty – displayed quite remarkable cowardice. I’d never seen a bird run away before. But the collared doves squared up to them and even tried to chase them away. Good on yer!

Sadly, the one I encountered on the road last week really let the side down. Confronted with an oncoming vehicle, he charges towards you! Er, hello? You have wings! Go upwards!

And don’t get me started on ducks. How many times have you seen two lines of traffic screech to a halt, because mummy duck has chosen that precise moment to lead her inordinately large brood across the road? It’s simply appalling parenting! In fact, it’s positively quackers! Do these creatures never read the Highway Code?

I dunno. Is it any wonder the Tufty Club was fronted by a squirrel?!