7 December 1950: Humans scuttle about misusing energy, trying to get into forbidden enclosures, playing and fighting and hugely propagating themselves
Everybody is so busy looking out for flying saucers – with, it is now suspected, tiny nuclear physicists sitting astride them – that portents much nearer home tend to get neglected. There were the Bridlington starlings, an extraordinary manifestation of the omen instinct. A multitude of these birds, it may be remembered, recently descended upon the town with a noise like jet aeroplanes, carried out a thorough reconnaissance which took them into bedrooms and even bars, and then went away as swiftly and noisily as they had come.
The starlings were a little before their time and realised it. With the patience and courtesy of the animal world, virtues shared even by vultures and jackals, they made their notes and temporarily took themselves off. Something had gone wrong with their intelligence service: it was not yet the moment to take over Bridlington. There were still people about, an untidy situation that may have to be endured for some time yet. It is unlikely that people will be abolished (as God was once abolished) by decree, though their redundancy grows more and more apparent. People have always hampered the proper running of the world, but in these complicated times they make it almost impossible. Starlings are not alone in finding that people get in the way. The problem for every politician and administrator is what to do with them without seeming harsh.
Related: Obituary: Norman Shrapnel