The trouble with swans is that they are sedate and graceful creatures that should be restricted to waterways to do what swans do. Swans should be left alone on rivers, lakes or other bodies of water. That way they are no harm to themselves or anyone else. Anyone who has had a close encounter with a swan will know just how nasty they can be when they are pissed off. The experts will tell you that they are stressed or frightened but if you do have one of these 'meetings' then I assure you that you will be the stressed and frightened one.
So when I get a call asking for Dog support and foolishly don't ask for some background info I learn a lesson. Because I am deemed to know a little about dogs itis assumed, quite wrongly, that I am an expert on swans. I am not.
I arrive at the location but have to go on foot the last 300 yards because traffic in the City is at a standstill and I assume, again wrongly, that some heinous crime might have been committed and there is a preserved and contained scene.
The offence is obstruction of the highway, a main highway near the City centre. Amongst the stationary traffic I can see a circle of people all moving this way and that. It reminded me of a school playground fight with the circle of baying kids egging on one or other of the combatants. The baying was efforts to avoid the flapping and snapping bits of the offender.
The huge relief of the officers upon my arrival was about the same as my huge surprise and...........disappointment, shall we say.
These guys had been telling everyone that once the dog handler arrives he is the animal expert and he will sort it out. Yeah right on there then.
Then I am in the chair, that chair, all alone and the spotlight is on me and then magnus speaks.............your specialist subject is swans. Then this deranged thing goes straight for me, no warning at all, I back off initially and begin to circle to buy myself some time. I can remember on the news seeing someone holding a swan in a blanket. Thats it, I'll use a blanket. I say to the guys, 'you got a blanket in the car ?'
'No, nights used it and didn't replace it'. So much for kit checks.
Thats it, plan A is a gonner.
I've got to be 'professional' as thats what the bosses tell us. No matter how deep itis, just be professional. Its their way of telling us we can do what we want but we mustn't drop in the shite. There you are, arses covered.
Plan B hatches almost immediately.
I must be professional. I remember I have no hat on. How are people going to recognise me as a Police Officer. This is only a minor distraction from the problem I face. I quickly forget about it.
I say to them, 'You pair move around to try to get behind it and I'll catch it from the side'
I think I can use my anorak as a substitute blanket, its not as big, it might protect at least some of me. They give me that smug look as though there is an idiot in the immediate vicinity.
I remove said garment and try to make it a lot bigger then itis and approach slowly but the guys seem frozen on the spot. I say ' do something just to distract it a bit'.
They begin to shout and wave their arms and the swan goes all flappy and honky and I lunge forward covering one flapping wing with my anorak but, to my enormous relief, grab hold of the business end, the white feathery boa of a neck with the hissing, honking snapping mouthpiece on the end. I decide I am not letting go. I try to get up but have only two levers, my legs. My arms are otherwise engaged for the foreseeable future. I manage to get to my knees and the crowd are clapping and the guys tell comms that the obstruction has been removed. It has from one place but not from me. What the bloody hell are we going to do now.
The least we have to do is to get the traffic flowing again, my van is a long way away and we agree I shall get into the back of the car, their car, to consider the way forward. We get into the car, there are two heads apparently stuck to the respective side windows and we drive away.
We hear from comms, there is a guy who deals with swan rescues and rehab and such, they are going to ring him for advice. They do and we can take the swan to a place also nearby'ish for them to take custody of the offender.
We get there and the guys alight as though they are on a footchase, they do open the door for me but I am left to struggle out. The swan is greeted by the new custodian who is oblivious to everyone else around and takes the struggling beast from me and walks back into his property. He returns after a short while with all his bits intact and the swan confined in some form of carrying harness straightjacket that is designed for swans, funnily enough.
He tells us that the swan appears to be stressed and frightened and may have sustained a neck injury as it crashed to the road mistaking it for a river because it had been raining and the sun was reflecting off the wet road surface.
This man knows far too much for his own good. Itis time to go.
No one got bitten, not even a pecked ear. The swan, apparently, was none the worse for its ordeal and I found a small amount of green mess inside the sleeve of my anorak when I put it on again.
One thing, trust me on this, don't mess with swans.