It is especially bad at this time of year - the dreaded school holidays. During school holidays, the clusters grow in size to accommodate the students who don't wag school to hang out in the mall at lunch time. So we are met not only with the mentally off-kilter teen, but also the hormonally enhanced, and the deluded members of the teen species who believe they are members of a gang from the New York or LA ghetto or key players in a hip hop film clip. On very special occasions we can also be treated to an attempted revival of gothic formal wear. They clump together, and move around in formations closely resembling that of pigeons - otherwise known as flying rats.
Cutting a swathe through the pigeon-children between the hours of 12-2pm and 5:30-8pm requires energy and assertiveness, and a strict adherence to one's own destination goals. I have learnt that, not unlike pigeons, they will generally move out of your way if you walk in a deliberately straight line at a fast pace. A sneer also helps.
So it was with some pleasure (as a bird hater from way back, and a person who can't watch the apparently [how would I know? I can't get past the title] great Hitchockian thriller The Birds as a result of this aversion) that I heard that in the lead up to Wimbledon, the All England Club decimated - by lethal bullet - a number of pigeons to ensure the health (yes, they carry disease - another parallel with the mall-dwellers: 2 in 3 teens are meant to carry some form of icky STD these days) and safety of the tennis players. Of course there was uproar from those segments of the community who hug trees and have never been swooped, crapped on or had their lunch stolen by a bird. To those people, I recommend a day in Trafalgar Square with bread crumbs in your hair. Or a visit to Brisbane's very own Queen St mall at lunch time, during school holidays.
In other Wimbledon news, I was very sad to see Andy Roddick dip out so early in the tournament. The eye candy he provides is, like the culling of pigeons, a necessary and well-appreciated community service. Not so sad to see Ms Grunty Maria Sharapova unceremoniously disposed of, and I was even pleased to see the dramz unfold post-match, with Shaz's opponent airily discussing how unimpressive her tux-inspired outfit was. I have no problem with the tux idea, and I kinda liked the inventiveness - but if you're gonna talk the talk, you gotta walk the walk.
While I love good tennis, I love good gossip more.