Daily Archives: August 31, 2009

Mondays’ Column – Maggie Malarky

A familiar theme for those of you who have been following this blog over the last 12 months!  Enjoy 🙂

It’s that time of year again, when the most aggressive, pea-brained, malevolent creatures in the world take it upon themselves to attack every living creature that haplessly wanders into their sights.  No, I’m not referring to the tribes of politicians returning en masse to Canberra, but the black and white terrorists, Magpies.    

These feathered bombers haunt nearly every highway and byway around our fair city, and are completely without mercy when it comes to protecting their turf.  I wouldn’t mind so much, but as a cyclist (of sorts) it can be a bit daunting to run the gauntlet of several magpie attacks on my weekly pedal into town to visit the library.  And Spring having come early this year, means that the Magpie season is going to be a lengthy one as we sail into an early Summer. 

‘Pubtruck’, my trusty pushbike, is too slow to outrun them, so I had to come up with some sort of diversionary tactic to prevent further attacks.  After much experimenting, I eventually stumbled across a sure-fire deterrent, but some of my earlier trials were, shall we say, not very successful.    

For example, I heard that painting a pair of eyes on your helmet will fend off attacks.  Nope, it just makes them angrier.      

Then a workmate suggested that covering my helmet with long cable ties would keep the pests at bay.  So I bought a pack, strapped them all over my helmet, and put it on.  I looked like the end result of an appalling experiment involving a jovial village idiot and a hedgehog.  Undeterred by the jeers of my family and neighbours I sallied forth to a known magpie hangout to test my latest invention.  Pedalling slowly along the bike way and shaking my head to achieve ‘maximum cable tie wiggle’, I quickly learned that while the maggie couldn’t attack my head, my shoulders, arms and back were still vulnerable.  I returned home, my ears still ringing from the cawing of the bird and the taunts of some smart alecky school kids. 

Next I bought a humorous rubber mask, carefully selecting one modelled on the Mr. Bean character.  Going by the way it frightened the Littlest Princess, I knew I was on to a winner.  I lashed the mask to the top of my helmet, so from the magpies’ perspective, it would look like I (or Mr. Bean) was facing them.  I’m happy to say it worked.  Sort of. 

While the mask was successful in keeping the marauding maggies at bay, it seemed to attract the yokel element.  I lost count of the number of drivers, and their vocal passengers, who slowed down to shout insults, hoot their horns, yell out, point and laugh, and on one spectacular occasion, toss a thickshake at me.  It was a sticky ride home that day.  Needless to say, the experiment wasn’t repeated. 

I persisted for another week, stoically enduring several more attacks, wracking my brain for a possible solution that didn’t involve heavy machine gun fire.  Then one morning while I was buying some bits for my bike, I noticed a bright orange flag hanging on the wall.  Inspiration struck, and moments later I was strapping it to Pubtruck. 

It worked!  The flag, waving jauntily in the breeze, made it almost impossible for a sneak attack from behind.  I even tempted fate by riding through Magpie Alley, a horror stretch of feathered fury near town, and the flag came through with flying colours.  Hurrah!  As an added bonus, Pubtruck became a bit more visible to passing motorists, so I’m spending less time leaping over gutters to avoid becoming a hood ornament. 

 Sure, the flag looks a bit geeky, but it’s certainly better than having your helmet, head, shoulders and back pecked, grabbed and slapped about by overly aggressive thugs, oh, and it also keeps magpies at bay.

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