The city (or urban) pigeon is a damning condemnation of modern life. It is everything that is wrong with the world.

Forget about the wholesome, gleaming-feathered wood pigeons that flit around the castles and groves of the rolling countryside. They are the unicorns of the pigeon world. They probably don’t really exist, and any that do will soon be snatched up by wealthy collectors to hoard in their underground vaults along with the arms of the Venus de Milo and all the other stuff such people feel the need to own.

The real pigeon is the city-born death-pigeon; a limping, croaking glob of matted feathers and quasi-tumescent growths, lurching like an escaped serial strangler from a Victorian novel. City pigeons are the Jack the Ripper of wildlife, if Jack the Ripper was a zombie.

Have you ever got down on your knees and looked into the eye of an urban pigeon? I have – with appropriate MoD-approved protection against biological contaminants, of course – and the look that pigeon gave me was one of the utterest madness. When I met its gaze, it stared as though it had just seen an investment banker vomit into an ashtray made of the severed hands of babies, then wrap it and give it to David Lynch as a Christmas present. (Actually, David Lynch would probably like that). That look said the whole world is a delirious smear of nauseating colours and intolerable nightmare noises, through which this creature stumbles in a wretched haze of disease-riddled terror and rage.

I fear the pigeon.

And what has wrought this? Our cities. The pigeon is the great counter to the anarchist’s argument: it is an illustration of what happens to a living creature left to fend for itself in one of our fume-filled, cacophonous urban heaps. Friendless and unaided by the state, the pigeon subsists on McDonald’s chips scraped from the plastic-clogged gutters of unheeding streets. It spends its days grasping at any hint of the chance to eat something that has spent less than a week on the ground and has never been stuck to the bottom of a shoe amidst traces of dog fecal matter and dried beer. At frequent but irregular intervals it must launch itself skyward as hard as it can on its malformed wings to avoid the unyielding lunges of huge, implacable things that charge around the city day and night.

Do your understanding of the world a favour. Look into the eye of the pigeon. See the way it looks back at you. Then ask yourself what you’d have to go through to look at the world like that.