What do you do about an animal that hisses at cars, attacks toddlers, makes life hell for the postman, and never, ever gives up?
4:52PM GMT 29 Jan 2016
A surprising number of people seem to think that to annoy a swan is tantamount to treason and deserves hanging at least, if not drawing and quartering. This attitude is grounded on the presumption that all swans belong to the Queen. But the Queen, as Seigneur of the Swans, exercises her right to mark ownership only over swans on the Thames, and even there allows the Vintners and Dyers their moiety of birds.
"They are just so vicious. They harass cyclists, hiss at cars and lorries. They chase people up the road and even attacked a toddler last year."
Taking a water-pistol to a swan, however, as some citizens of Stroud, Gloucestershire, have being doing, seems to close to lese-majesty. They have, by their own account, been driven to it. “It has become a living hell,” said one resident who had retired to Stroud for a quiet life. “I was doing my knitting last week and they came right up from the river to the patio doors and began pecking on the window.” If that counts as a living hell in Stroud, it must be an earthly paradise at other times. One swan was accused of hissing at lorries and another of making the postman run the gauntlet, which does sound anti-social.