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Swans Hate People

Mark Jorgensen is mugged on the towpath

Published on November 16th 2011.

Swans Hate People

OVER the years living in Manchester, I’ve heard various accounts from people about despicable acts of aggression towards humans from the various species of wildfowl which populate the canal sides of our city. 

I was immediately relieved to see that it wasn’t a howling sex offender as I’d feared, but, a swan engaged in an altercation with a goose.

Among the hostile herons, the ghastly geese, the menacing mallards, it is the Mancunian faction of the Queen's very own swans which seem to be the most consistent offenders. I’ve always tried to keep clear of crossing their arrogant, waddling paths. 

That was, until a couple of weeks back. I’d been at a friend’s flat near St George’s Island and after drinking budget Caribbean rum and dancing to some mild commercial reggae, I had embarked upon the arduous trudge home. 

Due to the rain, I decided to take a short cut, opting to brave the cottagers and weirdos and take a route along the canals. 

As I ambled cautiously down the dark, snaking pathways back towards the city centre, my attention was drawn to a noise. A horrifying noise. A noise which I can only liken to a banshee being kicked up a staircase made of broken glass by an elderly blues musician passing a kidney stone. 

Stealthily pushing a key between the fingers of my nervous fist, I approach the epicentre of the fluttering racket. I was immediately relieved to see that it wasn’t a howling sex offender as I’d feared, but, a swan engaged in an altercation with a goose.

Inherently recalling the first rule of observing nature, I decided it was not my place to intervene so I tried to respectfully sidestep the carnage and carry on about my journey. 

Tried being the appropriate word. As I got adjacent to the duelling birds, the swan craned his ridiculous neck to shoot me a menacing glance akin to that of a beaked Jack Nicholson from The Shining after he’d smashed through that door. 

Swans Planning An AttackSneaky Swans Planning An Attack

Completely unprovoked, he immediately switched his fury to me, abandoning his battle as the cowardly goose took his chance to escape and left me to face the wrath of his feathery assailant. I can’t really blame the goose, I suppose they are bound by the same rules of observing nature as I was.

In the heat of the moment, time stood still as I was struck by a decision of fight or flight. Being the only one in this tussle incapable of flight, I abandoned my innate desire to never wish to cause harm to an animal and made the admirable decision to fight. I considered a swift, devastating kick to the face, I considered an ambitious, jumping choke hold to incapacitate the beast, I even considered removing a shoe to thrash my foe like a father from the Beano. 

As he approached, I had settled upon the perhaps foolish option of trying to punch my way out, and adopted a south-paw boxing stance to try and get inside his evident reach advantage. At the critical moment, that sentence passed through my mind, “the Queen owns all of the swans – it’s illegal to kill them”. 

Buoyed by sheer terror and mild embarrassment, I revised my plan in a split second. I ran. I ran faster than I’ve ever ran before, thundering along the path with the psychotic bird in tow, quacking  intimidating quacks that amidst the chaos, sounded as though they were getting dangerously closer.

Just as I scampered under a little overpass, I saw ahead of me a pleasant couple taking a romantic, night time stroll along the canal, who looked absolutely terrified as I came lumbering towards them screaming “F*CKING.........SWAN!” in a pathetic quivering yelp.

I was so astounded that they hadn’t followed suit and started to flee that I began to slow down, turned around frantically to reveal the thug bird had gone. Relieved, yet humiliated, I offered a hopelessly overconfident nod as I attempted to casually swagger past them. 

“Swans, they’ll break your arm, you know,” is the old apocryphal tale. Well, never mind your arm, the swans of Manchester will rip of your head and quack down the neck hole. 

Are you the couple in this story? If so I apologise. Let's hope the swan didn't goose you as well. 

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13 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Mr D DuckNovember 17th 2011.

Those swans hate me as well.

MeNovember 17th 2011.

Love it!

Katrina BallerinaNovember 17th 2011.

Swans are beautiful creatures that are incredibly defensive. And do you blame them? We tower over them ffs and considering the amount of taunting and nasty bastard acts that some chavvy scumbags do to them, what do you expect.

Mark JorgensenNovember 17th 2011.

They're not that beautiful when they're trying to make balloon animals out of your innards katrina. And I have never ever seen ANYONE, chavy or otherwise, attack a swan, but have seen plenty of them attack people. Are you a swan? Are you THE swan?

1 Response: Reply To This...
Katrina BallerinaNovember 17th 2011.

what a talented swan that must have been then!are you sure you weren't spiked with something instead...i didnt know swans had the ability to sprout hands and lips and perform balloon blowing techniques....hmmmmm.
And yes, I have seen people being cruel, the worst case was in Canary Wharf outside my house when i lived in london, a swan was nesting ad a little shit tried to flame throw it for fun with a lighter and a can of spray. One of many instances.

Andrea TimoneyNovember 18th 2011.

Swans are bloody lethal....glad to find out I'm not alone in my fear of them. I've been attacked by swans so many times it's ridiculous! I actually won't walk the tow paths by myself because of the bloody things. And, let's add Geese to the 'offenders register' as well....nearly ended up in the Ashton Canal after an altercation with one of them yobs. Forget muggers and cottagers, its the water fowl you've gotta watch!

ConmanNovember 18th 2011.

Why is it when presented with a choice of fight or flight these birds invariably opt for the former? If God had intended swans to fight, why do I not have wings?

SmittyNovember 21st 2011.

Do swans quack?

A swanNovember 21st 2011.


JS3November 22nd 2011.

lol great write up.

AnonymousNovember 29th 2011.

Brilliant this. Love the fighting tactics dilema. I'd have turned round and gone back the way I came, I'm not going to lie. Don't fancy my chances against a swan. They broke a kids leg at my school. Not sure he was trying to flame thrower it though, just get to school. Since then, I've been wary of them. Very wary.

Calum McGNovember 29th 2011.

Deep-fried swan.

AnonymousDecember 10th 2011.

they can break your arm you know...

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