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17 Dec

Be alert and alarmed, the black and white menace is playing possum

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CRIKEY: Pedal mate, pedal!

Spring. It is the best of times, it is the worst of times.

It is also mostly predictable. But not this year. It’s the end ofSeptember andI haven’t been swooped by a magpie. Actually, Ihaven’t seen anyone attacked.Usually, by this time, I have almost run off the road at least twice from laughing at a cyclist being bombed out of the blue.

“So, how are your cable ties going now mate?” I observe smugly from my car (doors locked, windows up).

The spectre of the mighty magpie loomed large over my childhood.The route to school fell under magpie rule in early September. Let’s call it the westside.The parks (eastside) were plover turf.

In peace time, the ride to school was a leisurely 20 minutes. In spring, thiscould be cut to well under 10 if you had a black-and-white bomber on your tail.

It was a more carefree time when kids didn’t wear helmets. Butwe did make‘helmets’ when the air strikes were on.

One brutal spring, my brother and I decided that an icecream container secured with string wasn’t going to cut it. So we fashioned a prototype horned helmet out ofpapier-mache. Like a crappy craft history project, we called on all our ancient skills and wisdom to make what was basically an icecream-style container hat … with horns.

To this day, I wince when I recall the swift and brutal pain of a maggie beak in the noggin. The only warning wasa “whoop whoop whooooop”.

If your nemesis was in a genial mood, it would sometimes flag its intent byscreeching, giving you a few seconds to fully accept that you would soon be in a world of pain.

Sometimes the hitwould knock you off your bike. Once, I was mowed down just metres from my house.With hysterical laughter ringing in my bloodied ears, I managed to limp home for medical assistance from mum. Ahhh, how I loved the feel ofwarm blood trickling down my neck and a leg full of gravel in the morning.

I have a long memory, and these are wily opponents.

Even though I haven’t spotted the maggie menacethis season,I’m sure they’ve spotted me … and you.

Be alert, and alarmed.

They are sure to stick their beaks in soon.

[email protected]苏州楼凤

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