Just before the black van parks in the square, panic begins with herring gulls piercing the sky: most of them no longer keep their nests close to the sea. The Harris Hawk comes complete with his falconer’s glove, with jesses attached to his brilliant feet: the man has a dream about freedom from scavengers. In intelligent bursts, the bird flies hither and thither at the word of his master, the command to scare: herring gulls, pigeons, are not to be devoured…. Prized for his performance, he dines on steaks. “Crouch,” cries the falconer.  “Crouch….” All of his hawks have footballers’ names. Children are amused: they are queuing like fans: they long to touch feathers, the leather of the glove. From time to time, this particular raptor delays his return: he alights on an outdoor table, waiting to be photographed, or makes for the indoor market, the souvenir stand. Banished from the square, from its human detritus, the herring gulls move to the cliffs. Copyright © JENNY JOHNSON First published in Sarasvati