The Urban Swan

This week Frank has a chance encounter with an urban swan…

Earlier in the week I caught a sighting of an urban swan. Unusually for me, I happened to have a camera about my person, so I took a snapshot. As you can see, the urban swan differs from the standard common or garden (or river and lake?) swan in that it is far less savage. Far, far less savage. Oh, they may look graceful and elegant as they glide along waterways, but all you need do is look into their eyes, where you will encounter fathomless alien savagery of a kind to give you the collywobbles, if not to run away as fast as you can emitting bloodcurdling screams.

Fortunately for us, the urban swan is eyeless. Indeed, some experts believe it is inanimate. Beware, however, for it can still be dangerous, particularly if picked up from the ground by a passing Bulgarian secret policeman who then daubs the pointy bit of its underside with poison and uses it to poke an expatriate dissident on a bridge. Other than in those circumstances, however, the urban swan is relatively harmless.

I contacted the Master of the Queen’s Music, Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, to ask if he has ever dined on urban swan. He is known to have a taste for whooper swans, having removed one from where it had perished on an electrified fence and taken it home to cook and eat. For this he was, quite rightly, cautioned by coppers. I was only able to reach his answerphone, from which there came a hideous caterwauling sound, which I took to be either a recording of Sir Peter’s Eight Songs For A Mad King or possibly another whooper swan being slaughtered in his pantry.


Share This Post

About Author Profile: Frank Key

Frank Key is a London-based writer, blogger and broadcaster best known for his Hooting Yard blog, short-story collections and his long-running radio series Hooting Yard on the Air, which has been broadcast weekly on Resonance FM since April 2004. By Aerostat to Hooting Yard - A Frank Key Reader, an ideal introduction to his fiction, is published for Kindle by Dabbler Editions. Mr Key's Shorter Potted Brief, Brief Lives was published in October 2015 by Constable and is available to buy online and in all good bookshops.

3 thoughts on “The Urban Swan

    September 28, 2012 at 08:42

    Back in the days when you could buy fruit in the foyer of cinemas, my mum told me that a swan could break my arm if I ventured too close, and I never forgot her good advice. The urban swan looks skinny and innocent, but my advice to dabblers is don’t dabble, stay clear.

      September 28, 2012 at 11:17

      I remember that old chestnut Mahlerman, intended to stop us swimming in the local lakes where the only hazard was their use as a dogs euthanasia clinic.

      Some famous Swans….

      Donald, of course, partner of Flanders, the famous field.

      Lake, Tchaikovsky’s signeture tune.

      Vesta, matchless.

      ee, the river, ‘how I love you, how I love you’

      Song, mine if I hang this out much longer.

      Lohengrin, panting after Elsa, the big burd from Brabant.

    September 28, 2012 at 11:53

    I have eaten (apparently legally) swan at a May Ball. Urban swan deserves a mention in the Curious Cookbook.

Comments are closed.