Peter Rhodes on violent whales, noisy gulls and humans with manners

Read the latest column from Peter Rhodes.

We are killers, got it?
We are killers, got it?

Scientists are said to be puzzled by a series of attacks on boats carried out by orcas along the coasts of Spain and Portugal in recent weeks. One 36-ft yacht was so badly damaged by repeated rammings that it had to be towed to harbour. What's going on?

My personal theory is that these ferocious whales have just discovered that humans have taken to calling them orcas and they are furious at losing their traditional scary name. If these whales could carry placards they would read: “We are not orcas – we are killer whales.” Being unable to write, they ram. (Okay, it is only a theory).

We in the printed media are often accused of BBC-bashing. But why does Auntie make it so very easy? There is never a good time to inform the licence payers that we must stump up £1.36 million a year to keep Zoe Ball in the manner to which she will become accustomed. But with millions of redundancies stalking a Covid-stricken nation and the over-75s losing their free TV licences, could there possibly be a worse time?

And if you're one of those who believes paying such salaries is essential to preserve the Beeb's global reputation, what happened to that reputation in Orpington in the early hours of September 9?

That was the day when the cops launched a long-planned raid. It was one of the biggest armed-police operations in years. Hundreds of officers in more than 30 vehicles swarmed into a traveller site and within hours they had made nine arrests, seized a number of weapons and taken two people into the care of a modern-slavery team. This was a major event, with alleged links to organised crime, and was duly covered by Sky, ITV, the Evening Standard, the Sun , the Times, the Daily Mail and a host of local, regional and national news websites. But not the BBC. If anybody at the Beeb would care to explain this curious editorial blackout, I'd be happy to pass it on.

I spent an evening this week amid nature red in tooth and beak. I was messing about on boats on a lake as the sun sank and the world slowly turned from pink to red and gold. For humans, a perfect sunset like this is a thing to be cherished. For the rest of nature it's just another opportunity for birds behaving badly. They are a rude, raucous and bullying bunch who, rather than find a buoy of their own, will seek out a smaller gull on another buoy and chuck him off before settling into a night of screaming at the neighbours.

David Attenborough does a fine job of telling us about all the bad things we do to animals, birds and the environment. But he never mentions the fact that we humans are the only species with manners. I wonder if I might possibly share your buoy . . . .

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