Stubborn Robins

Three miles from here the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, yes we actually have a branch of the Royal Family totally responsible for looking after our feathered friends - has just spotted a rare North American Robin.

That is one little dicky bird a heck of a long way from home. It probably got blown off course mid-Atlantic in the recent hurricanes. Maybe it was heading for Mexico or the Bahamas. Welcome to London, birdbrain.

It is extremely unusual to find one here. Your robins are bigger than our red-robins, about the size of a blackbird with browner breasts and fatter heads. Your robins, I am told, have adapted well to urban living and are also pretty slick at defending themselves. And, naturally enough, our native London robins don't like your robins. I dare say they wouldn't be too bothered if a cat caught up with this particular one and dissected it slowly for breakfast.

And the Mayor of London expresses a similar attitude right now to the American Ambassador in this city, Mr. Robert Tuttle. Now I have never met Robert Tuttle. I believe he used to be a successful automobile dealer. But I don't think he has a particularly oversize head or a reddish brown chest, and as far as I know he wasn't blown off course mid-Atlantic.

However Mr. Tuttle is about as popular with the Mayor of London as Turdus Migratorius – that's the posh name for the lone North American Robin – is among London's native robin population. Turdus apparently refuses to budge. Tuttle apparently refuses to pay the daily charge for driving a gas-guzzling automobile across central London --14 dollars per day per auto, checks to the Mayor of London.

Now, there is only one person in London who is exempt from this charge – and that's Her Majesty the Queen, God Bless Her, who is far too busy looking after the physical welfare of a single North American Robin to get involved.

Anyway the Mayor of London has now caused transatlantic outrage by describing Mr. Tuttle as a "chiseling little crook" for failing to pay up. This is not to say that all US Ambassadors are former successful auto dealers. Nor does it imply that successful auto dealers are automatically chiseling little crooks. Let alone that all chiseling little crooks are US Ambassadors. But it has upset the delicate balance of Anglo American relations.

I wouldn't wonder if that stray North American Robin doesn't show his personal disgust by checking out pretty soon.
by Ed Boyle