Saturday, 1 May 2010

Spike Falling Fowl

“The solution is very simple, to save gross maltreatment of the females, the males have got to be thinned out by shooting. The second, which would be much more difficult, would be trapping them at night by hand, taking them to distant parts of the country and releasing them which, of course, is out of the question.”

Now, this isn’t what you may be thinking, or what you think I may be thinking, especially to those of you who think you know exactly what I could be thinking. Absolutely not! Although, thinking about it now and considering my somewhat dire experience with the opposite sex, it doesn’t seem such a bad idea to contemplate a mass cull of the male population at this precise moment in time.

The opening paragraph, in fact, is a mere excerpt from a letter written by Spike Milligan to the Wildfowl Trust on the 18th March 1968 expressing his concerns over the “terrible thrashing to the point of death” the female Mallards were facing during the mating season in London’s Parks. Not something I’ve ever witnessed, thankfully!

Whether the letter was posted, or not, is irrelevant. I just happened to come across it in a post partum addendum to the Goon’s works: “The Unpublished Spike Milligan Box 18”. I can only assume, the once stateless former British Soldier was giving his support, regardless of his own species and gender, to a persecuted minority group. Well done, Mr Milligan. Me thinks such a noble act warrants a retraction on my earlier slight and knee jerk condemnation towards the male sex. My sincere apologies! It would be unfair of me to propagate the myth that all men have a tendency to lodge their brains in their nether regions, bury joint income in moth infested wallets or file domestic logic on a hard drive in an unreferenced sub folder. Sarcasm aside, and genetically speaking, my longstanding belief has always been that each human being has the power to develop their own individual characteristics, unique in their diversity, with some ending up a little more quackers than others.

In his letter, Mr Milligan went on to suggest that “The killings need not be useless, the ducks could be given to Chelsea Pensioners who I am sure would enjoy eating them.” Maybe, maybe not! I wouldn’t count on it with the growing number of vegetarians and organic consumers looking towards more ethical and healthy options. It’s also hard to say whether medical practitioners and government spin doctors would unanimously agree to disagree on the dietary goodness of such wild fowl.

My main concern, however, with Mr Milligan’s suggested solutions is: who in the hell is going to go down to the park, under the dark of night, to trap these over sexed creatures by the hand or… Heaven forbid, blow their featherlite brains out? There must be an irresistible, bureaucratic, arrest-able offence in there somewhere!


  1. Hmm, it’d take a brave man to try. Imagine the shameful disgrace of being charged with pulling off a mallard?

    I’m relieved you weren’t intent on going after half the male population with a shotgun. I’m not well-read by any means, but Milligan is one of the few I’ve invested some time in. Behind his often eccentric behaviour was a funny, clever, compassionate man. Good piece, JJ. I hope this’ll put you back in the groove again. And yes, I smiled.

  2. Cheers, Cowboy... If you like Milligan then I can recommend “The Unpublished Spike Milligan Box 18”. I found a copy, just by chance, in a charity shop. I tell yer... That Goon knew how to write a short and pointed letter, that's fer sure.