London isn't really a postcard city. The water is sewage-flecked, the parks are the size of beach towels and the vistas are expensive. I sometimes think of my time in London as The Year Without Sunsets, since the curvy street-canyons block the horizon for 360 degrees in most neighborhoods. London's the kind of city where you set your camera on 'ladybug' and try to piece the Lichtenstein together from whatever dots you can document.
I only took about 5 pictures during this most recent trip, and most of them seem pretty farty outside the context in which they were taken. This one deserves an explanation, though:
In case it's not immediately clear, that is a fucking raptor. In the center of a city of 12 million people. Two words spring instantly to mind: The fuck?!
So me and my friend were walking up the steps from the Institute for Contemporary Art and saw the above dude (left) with one of those leather bird-gloves walking around aimlessly. Just as I was about to comment on the developments in London handwear since I left, this steely brown F-16 landed on the glove and started scanning around. We, jaded urbanites both, stopped and began the 'ummmmmm' sound that signifies Trying to Figure It Out.
We watched the pair, polo shirt and feather-vest, walk around this little square. The bird took off every few minutes, flew around, then came back when Doolittle whistled or whatever. I eventually reached my threshold for unexplained weirdness.
Me, approaching the dude: OK, I have to ask. You're walking around with a baby-lifting prairie creature on your arm in the middle of London. What's going on?
Birdman: Oh, her? This is Lucy.
Me: OK, hi Lucy. I'm … still in wonderance as to why you have a giant zoo animal here.
Birdman: This is London's new plan for getting rid of pigeons. She hunts them.
Me: … Seriously?! You're out here hunting pigeons? This is, like, your job?
Birdman: Well, Lucy's job.
Me: Rad. Does she actually kill pigeons out here? Like, above Nelson's column there's a birdfight and at the next bus stop there's a raptor pulling out entrails, or what?
Birdman: She does get the occasional pigeon, if it's weak or wounded. If it's a fit pigeon, though, it usually gets away.
Me: Fit pigeon?!