Seagulls are always protective when it comes round to this time of year and they’re raising their young.
Babies here, a few years ago in June.
We’ve walked Pippa down Ragged Staff and along Queensway and had a few near misses as the huge birds swoop down at us and then just before hitting us suddenly shoot back up again. Or maybe the trees interfered with their precision flying and targeting.
So Partner and Pippa sauntered out for their evening stroll up Town Range towards the Eliott hotel.
Just as they were approaching a small bar, El Cortijo, a seagull attacked. And this one was right on target. He cleverly dive-bombed from behind. Partner’s first thoughts? ‘****ing hell, the bastard’s shit on me!’ But when he put his hand up (silly thing to do in my opinion) to feel the extent of the damage, he realised it was blood dripping from his head.
They kept walking, because a dog’s gotta do what a dog’s gotta do.
Interestingly more than half the people who saw this blood-spattered man wandering around Main Street looked away. The others (there’s some hope for humanity) asked if he was all right and did he need any help.
At the (Angry) Friar, he met a few people he knew. One advised him to get a tetanus jab.
A police officer asked if he was OK too.
‘Yes thanks. I’ve just been attacked by a seagull.’
‘Did you get a description?’
‘Yes, it was grey and white, but didn’t leave its name,’ quipped Partner.
And with that, Partner and Pippa wandered home.
He considered the hospital option.
I rang. ‘My partner’s been attacked by a seagull, does he need a tetanus jab?’
‘Yes, it’s best he comes in. But he might have to wait a while.’
So off he went out again, still covered in blood, walking down Main Street, en route to St Bernards. And bumped into the same copper, this time with a colleague, who looked horrified, but was immediately reassured by Copper No 1 that it was just a seagull attack and Partner was on his way to hospital.
At casualty, there were loads of people milling around. Yup, he was going to have to wait. It wasn’t the UK type of Saturday in A&E, well it was a bit early for all the drunks, just the usual Gibraltarian social gathering sort of mix.
Partner explained the attack and said he’d not had a tetanus jab for more than 30 years. He was whisked straight through. Queue jumping par excellence.
A nurse gave him a test for tetanus immunity, and unsurprisingly he came up totally lacking, ie it was a negative result. It’s the ProTetanus test (UK) or TetanusQuickStick (TQS) in Europe.
It takes up to ten minutes to do, a quick finger prick and then it’s dropped onto a tablet type thing (looked like a dishwasher tablet, he said). There are two markers. One to establish whether the test has been carried out correctly, and one to show whether or not there is tetanus immunity.
This comes from this interesting study which looked at whether it was cost-effective to introduce TQS into the NHS.
In retrospect, I can see no reason to have given Partner the test. He’d said he hadn’t had a jab for more than 30 years (accident on construction site) so why bother with the test? All it did was prove what he said. Surely it’s for cases where people don’t know their medical history or can’t remember their last jab. I haven’t had one for 30+ years either. Good service from a patient perspective, poor use of resources from a managerial one. But, if you read, or skim, the CEP study, it says that staff were over-immunising people who turned up at A&E departments. And, when you’ve just been attacked/knocked on the head by a seagull, or anyone/anything else, can nursing staff actually rely on someone’s word/memory?
Brief digression. I have a vague family familiarity with tetanus. My father got it. Apparently he stood on a rusty drawing pin. He rapidly seized up and was in hospital unable to eat or speak. Lockjaw is a truly accurate name.
His friends naturally visited and joked about how good it was that something had finally shut him up. My mother was somewhat worried. The tetanus mortality rate can be 30–50%, depending on location.
Clearly he recovered, and the tetanus had two lasting repercussions. The first, was that he could no longer drink loads without getting drunk. After not many drinks one evening he was found sitting in a dustbin lid singing merrily away (he couldn’t sing). The second impacted on me. I was not allowed to walk around barefoot. I received vile pink frilly slippers every Christmas which I refused to wear. In fact, I totally ignored this annoying ban and not only walked around the house barefoot, I walked around the garden barefoot too. Surely the trick is to make sure there are no rusty drawing pins around? Not reduce my civil liberties. It’s an interesting parallel with knee-jerk government reactions though. Rather than eliminating the problem – leaving rusty drawing pins lying around – one brings in an unnecessary law as a nanny state preventive measure.
The UK has an immunisation programme (from 1961) and in 20 years, 1984–2004, there were 198 cases reported. In 2013, there were seven recorded cases in England and Wales and no deaths.
Back to the story and A&E
On finding out Partner had no immunity, it was jab time.
Baje los pantalones, said the Spanish nurse.
You’re joking, said Partner, and held out his arm. Hopefully. Aquí?
No, she said. They were doing this in a real English/Spanish mix. And she pointed to his arse.
He dropped his trousers.
Mmm, she said. Buen músculo. Well, yes, always been one of his ASSets.
Quick jab, clean up the blood, and antiseptic the wound and he was off. Going out, a medic said, ‘oh, you’re the one who was attacked by a seagull’. No doubt it’s all round Gibraltar.
Jumped on a bus home. Total round trip door to door? Less than an hour. Excellent service Gib HA. Many thanks. Also, thanks to the police officers, and everyone else who was concerned about his welfare, including some of our immediate neighbours. Much appreciated.
Don’t walk near seagull nests with big dogs (pretty difficult when seagulls are all around).
Wear a hat during baby seagull season?
Never mind the monkeys, watch out for the seagulls in June.
Never get cleaned up before you go to A&E. Blood and gore wins the day, or evening.