Once upon a time, in the city of Chichester which sat in West Sussex not far from the Hampshire border, there was a plague. It was not a plague such as where you might find your neighbours coughing up blood and falling down dead in the street, oh no! This was a plague of the feathered variety; pigeons, to be precise.
Pigeons were everywhere. On the ground, in the trees, in the buildings, even in people's homes. And the people of Chichester were not best pleased.
"We are not best pleased," they agreed at a meeting to decide how to deal with the pigeons but that was all they could initially agree upon. Some people suggested eating the pigeons but others argued that to do so would be to eat everything that the pigeons ate too and this quite turned a number of stomachs present. Some people suggested shooting the pigeons but guns and bows and arrows were in short supply as Chichester was a civilised place and hitherto had suffered no need of such barbaric instruments.
As the meeting drew to a close with no resolution in sight the people of Chichester were more glum than they had been before and they stared forlornly at the doors of the meeting hall, dreading the infestation of pigeons into which they would need to venture. Just then, the doors swung open and in stepped a woman with long, blonde hair, dressed in black, and wearing a bag across her body.
"I can rid your city of pigeons," she declared. "But it will cost you!"
"Anything!" the people cried.
The woman nodded and walked away. From her bag she started removing miniature Cornish pasties and discarding them on the ground and everyone saw that the pigeons flocked to fight over whatever tasty morsels they could wrestle. The blonde woman wandered through the city and continued to drop food for the vermin and in this manner she led all the pigeons outside Chichester's walls and down to the canal. The people followed from a distance, hardly daring to believe their eyes. One by one each and every pigeon hopped, flew, and fought its way into the canal waters desperate to get every last crumb of the pasties that floated on its surface. And every pigeon was attacked and killed by the rats that lived nearby.
"I have rid you of your pigeons," said the blonde woman. "Now I wish to set up a store selling cheap scarves in your main street."
The people of Chichester were aghast. "Cheap scarves!" they cried. "That's far too common for Chichester! We won't do it!" And then they laughed at the blonde woman. "We have no more pigeons so we have no need of you now!"
The blonde woman looked at them all with fire in her eyes. "You will regret this action." But the people of Chichester shrugged their shoulders and turned their backs on her and returned to their homes and ignored the woman.
The woman with the long blonde hair reached into her bag and withdrew a long pie. She chewed on one end releasing a great waft of warm steak and kidney, and then she began to walk back through the city, nibbling a little and blowing on the pie occasionally for it was quite hot.
The smell drifted from house to house and from shop entrance to shop entrance and the people who sniffed it were captivated because it was the most lovely thing to have entered their nostrils in many a day. But it was the old people who were most smitten and as the woman walked right through the centre of Chichester they began to follow her, shuffling and salivating in her wake. Little children begged their grandparents not to go but they were powerless to prevent them. Adults tried to form barriers but the tide of geriatric gentlemen and ladies was too much to bear. The blonde woman and her pie carried on and disappeared to the north.
Inside an hour, in the city of Chichester there were no pigeons, no blonde woman, and no elderly people at all.
"What have we done?" wailed the people. "Why were we so selfish?"
But after they had given the matter some thought the people came to the conclusion that things hadn't turned out so badly and it might actually be beneficial not having to care for the infirm in their society after all.
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