Green Park, London. A man (James Pooley) sits on a park bench and scatters breadcrumbs. Calls to the imaginary birds around him: "Pigeon! Coo! Coo! Pigeon!" On comes another man (Rory Ewins), in a donkey jacket and wearing a fake beak, pretending to be a pigeon. He flaps his arms vaguely, jerks his head back and forwards in a pigeon-like fashion, and shouts, a few times, "Cheep." The man on the bench is studiously ignoring him, hoping this mad person will go away. The "pigeon" is persistent. He says loudly, "CHEEP!BLOODY CHEEP!"
ManLook, what do you want?
BirdGive me some bloody breadcrumbs! Cheep!
ManWuh... Get your own breadcrumbs! These are for the pigeons!
BirdLook, I'm a bleeding pigeon aren't I? Cheep!
ManNo you're not, you're a very silly man pretending to be a pigeon.
BirdYes all right, just suspend your disbelief. Cheep!
ManPigeons don't go "cheep", they go "coo".
BirdWell coo bloody coo, then. What difference does it make? They get the idea (he indicates the audience).
ManYou might as well do it properly. It has to be a bit convincing.
BirdAll right, all right, coo coo, there we are I'm a pigeon, are we satisfied Mr Industrial Light and Magic? Now give me some breadcrumbs or I'll crap on you.
ManI beg your pardon?!
BirdCome on, you've seen what we pigeons can do to a statue, now hand over those crumbs!
ManLook, I'm not about to...
Bird(Interrupting) Cheep!
Man... hand over my crumbs to...
BirdI mean coo!
ManI'm not about to hand over my crumbs to any old pigeon that comes along! By the looks of it you're a particularly unsavoury bird. I'm not sure I want to give my crumbs to the likes of you.
BirdOh, so he's discriminating against the homeless now is he? Mr High and Mighty West End Businessman. Just because we have to wear scummy old donkey jackets instead of nice new trenchcoats we're not worthy of your crumbs!
ManHomeless? I thought you said you were a pigeon.
Bird(Oo-wot-a-giveaway) Uh... well... pigeons can be homeless too you know! Cheep! I'm a victim of this government's criminally negligent policy towards the housing of overweight urban birdlife! A sad indictment of Churchill's Britain!
ManWell I'm sure the... Churchill's Britain? Winston Churchill's been dead thirty years!
BirdGood thing too.
ManCome on, you can't blame Churchill for today's problems!
BirdOh can't I? Who started World War Two then?
ManAdolf Hitler.
BirdWell who kept it going then? Winston bloody pigeon-hater Churchill, that's who! Do you know how many pigeons lost their homes in the Blitz?
BirdThat's a shame, I would have liked to have known myself. But anyway, it was a lot! All bombarded into oblivion! And that's not to mention Dresden!
ManWhat about Dresden?
BirdI wasn't going to mention it! A nightmare, that was! Pigeon nests in flames everywhere, and stouthearted feathered heroes fried to a crispy golden deliciousness before they could say "cheep"! And who was responsible? WINSTON CHURCHILL! (He calms down a bit) I tell you, every time I fly over his statue it's bombs away and no mistake. Fight that one on the beaches, bird-baker.
ManWasn't World War Two a bit before your time?
BirdBefore my time? I was there mate! Doing battle with the bombers! Hurling my flimsy body into their rotating propellors in the hope of sabotaging their evil onslaught! Tora! Tora! Kamikaze!
ManNow look...
BirdLuckily I missed.
ManLook, I just don't believe that you were fighting in World War Two. That would make you over fifty years old! No pigeon lives that long.
BirdOh no? Why do you think our feathers are grey?
ManCome on, now you're just being silly.
BirdOh now I'm being silly am I? Doing ridiculous head movements and going "cheep" is okay but when I face up to the hard truth about the way this country's governed I'm being silly! Just give me some bloody breadcrumbs and piss off!
ManOh all right. (He tosses some crumbs to Bird, who tries to catch them in his mouth. Massive audience applause when he succeeds.) Look, all I'm saying is you're living in the past. If you want to deal with the injustices of today you have to deal with the government of today.
Bird(Dismissively) I've got that under control. Just last week I crapped on the PM's limo.
ManWell what good's that going to do? One pass through the carwash and it's gone. What you want is to rally your feathered friends and bring this city to a standstill.
BirdUh... cheep?
ManDon't you see? Don't you see how London would suffer if its pigeons went on strike?
Lights cut to newsreader (Robert Terry). The others walk off.
NewsHyde Park was overrun today by a rally of some ten million pigeons. Chanting their marching cry of "Coo Bloody Coo", the pigeons refused entry to tourists and lunching white-collar workers, and ejected several dozen ducks from the Serpentine to shouts of "Scabs Out". Their leader, an unidentified bird wearing a donkey jacket, announced that the rally was the first step in a citywide general strike to be known as the Campaign to Rehouse All Pigeons, or CRAP. Already, CRAP's stop-work campaign has caused an uproar. Angry Japanese and American tourists stormed police stations demanding to know where they could find a flock of pigeons to photograph their children with in Trafalgar Square; and elderly locals wandered London's empty parks aimlessly scattering breadcrumbs. The government has insisted that there is no cause for alarm.


First performed by Three Men and a Penguin at the ADC Theatre, Cambridge, April-May 1992.
This page: 12 February 2000; last modified 16 February 2001.

©1992, 2000 Rory Ewins