Chasing the seagulls

Yes, I know, there is no such thing as a seagull, they are simply gulls, but having grown up with the word, it is hard to let it go. A younger person might reasonably point out that the association of some gulls with the sea has become tenuous. Some gulls don’t even appear to live near water, either the sea or a river.

Lying on the northern edge of Cheltenham, the school is distant from the sea and some miles from the River Severn, which runs to the west of Gloucester. Unless you count the ponds in Pittville Park, there is no open water nearby. Yet there is a flock of seagulls that frequents the school grounds and that returned with enthusiasm when the students returned after lockdown. Lunchtimes provide many opportunities for snatching scraps dropped by careless eaters of food bought in the school canteen and kiosk.

The school grounds are extensive and below the expanse of grass now marked with the lanes of a four hundred metre running track there is the rugby pitch which is now in a summer slumber.

The creation of the flat rugby pitch must have demanded excavation at some point and there is a slight ridge running down to the touchline. The ridge is shallow at one end and sufficiently deep at the other for those sat below it to be out of sight to those closer to the school buildings.

Students concealing themselves from sight are a cause for concern to members of staff on duty, so it was that the disappearance from view of two twelve year old boys prompted a feeling of need to wander down the field.

A large litter bin lay between us and an absence of students and the prospect of scraps had drawn a gathering of gulls. Some of the gulls wandered close to the top of the ridge, whereupon the two boys came running into sight trying to catch the unwitting birds. Of course, there was no prospect of a twelve year old boy catching a wily old scavenger and even the boys laughed at their efforts.

Watching their efforts was a moment of unexpected joy. Chasing gulls was a ridiculous laughter inducing activity, but to have the energy and the enthusiasm to attempt it seemed the sort of thing that might have been expected of schoolboys before their spirits were possessed by mobile phones.


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