Escaping the horror of UK politics using pigeons

stop it, get some help!

Escaping the horror of UK politics using pigeons

I come home from the school run wet and furious. It’s hammering with rain, but that’s not the reason for the fury. In fact, I’ve hit a nice equilibrium over the past week or so: I feel content, on the whole, with my little life, and a bit less worried about things.

And then I allowed myself to get plugged back into politics.

You remember those fake cans of peanuts that were extremely cool and relevant in the ‘90s? It was like that. I just opened the lid a little bit and got hit with a relentless, overwhelming stream of bullshit. I’d rather go back and be smacked in the face with a big burst of colourful worms than deal with this. I’d rather go back and be sprayed in the eyes with silly string. I’d rather go back and be dropped into a tank of slime in front of a studio audience. You see what I’m trying to say here.

I stand in the kitchen, scrubbing potatoes, thinking about the news, and do a big sigh.

‘Do you know what I really want to do right now?’ I ask the kitchen as a whole.

‘What?’ Chris responds.

‘I want to play Headbangers.’

‘Oh! Go on then.’

‘What about the potatoes?’

Chris assures me that he can handle the potatoes. (Not a euphemism.) And so I sit down in front of the TV, leaning around the Christmas tree a little bit. My daughter, who is super into Headbangers, is really happy.

I am going to play this game, I think, and I am not going to think about politics.

Here is how it went.

(In case you don’t know, Headbangers: Rhythm Royale is a rhythm action game involving pigeons. You will be matched with a group of random players to complete five rounds of mini-games. Last bird standing wins.)

Game #1: Run Pigeon Run

Hit X or A to peck stuff. Easy.

This is a pretty easy one. Okay. Zone out. I am a pigeon, pecking at random things in the ground and the sky. This is nice. This is calming.

Do you remember when we last had a competent Prime Minister? Was it Theresa May? She might be a terrible dancer but at least she’s not the other ones.

How many have we had now anyway? Let’s take a quick inventory:

  • Rishi ‘of course I don’t have working-class friends’ Sunak
  • Liz ‘crashed the economy, don’t get why everyone hates me’ Truss
  • Boris ‘once hid from a scary reporter in a fridge’ Johnson
  • Theresa ‘wheat-lover’ May
  • David ‘I shagged a pig that one time’ Cameron

I do think Theresa might be the best of all of them. It’s okay to like running in fields of wheat.

This is all we have. These people are the best. In the whole country. The absolute pinnacle of British leadership.

My ironing basket’s looking a bit full.

Game #2 - Stereo Ga Ga

Hit a button whenever you hear a pigeon make a noise. Deceptively tricky in the later rounds.

Count how many times the pigeons make noises. That’s easy.

Did Tony Blair ever do anything weird? I know about the war in Iraq but that’s less ‘weird’ and more ‘dastardly’.

Do you remember when Ed Milliband eating a bacon sandwich was the oddest thing anyone’s ever done? I miss that.

‘When’s dinner ready?’

Son is shouting, I can’t hear the pigeons.

‘Can you just - speak quietly -’'


Score is dropping rapidly. I need to claw this back.

Failed. Ah well. Let’s go again.

Game 3 - Piano Mezzo Forte

Hit the right button at the right time to sing.

I am EXCELLENT at this one. Smashing it. Incredible.

I wonder if someone’s done a study to prove that humans can absorb three-word slogans better than other kinds.



Stop the boats. I did a linguistics unit for my degree, and we looked at the way politicians and journalists use natural disaster words to describe refugees:

tidal wave.



He knows it’s over, doesn’t he? Rishi. He knows. I genuinely think the Tories are going to hurt people in anticipatory retaliation. Forcing disabled people to look for work. Plunging more children into poverty. Screwing over the NHS. Decimating public services. I don’t like to think of people as evil, but this is evil, isn’t it? It’s actually evil. People will die. Do you remember when the government refused to release data on the number of suicides caused by their punishing, draconian work capability assessments?

I wonder how many people died in connection with that?

(Editors note: it’s 600 apparently.)

Game 4 - Faster Than Sound

You’ll hear a series of noises, hit A when you hear the right one. But you have to do it quicker than your oppoenent.

There’s a lot of bots in this game. More people should be playing it.

And now they want to nose into our bank accounts? The government, I mean. Nearly everyone I know will be affected by this. Want to claim a state pension? Fuck you, hand over your bank accounts. Need to claim child benefit? Fine, but I want to keep an eye on what you’re spending.

Why not nose into the stupidly large contracts they’ve been handing out to their friends? Oh right, because they’re career criminals masquerading as politicians.

I’m really angry now.

The ironing really needs doing. I wonder if I asked Mum, would she do the ironing for me? Is that a really lame thing to do? I’m 35.

Game 5 - The Stunt Moles

Like whack-a-mole, basically

I’ll just message Mum quickly. She knows I’m drowning in uni and work and life stuff. And she loves ironing. (Genuinely, it’s mind-boggling.)

Oh no, it’s on.

I sometimes think that I can’t take it anymore. The corruption, not the pigeon game. I genuinely can’t take it. And I’d love to think that the opposition will sort it all out, but I heard that Starmer is in love with Thatcher now or something.

You know what? I can’t do this anymore. The helplessness is making me literally shake with rage. I need to zone in on the pigeons. Smash those moles. Destroy them all. Make them pay.

I’ve gone into a dark place.

‘You’re doing really well, Mummy!’ my son says. He is insultingly surprised.

Losing it now. It’s getting too hard. One more round?

Game 6 - Garden Party

Listen to the tune, then copy it.

Glance down at my phone. Mum is very excited about doing my ironing. Her message has exclamation marks and kisses.

Deep breath now. What a strange thing, to have this life. To be so grateful for it: for my loved ones, for living in a stable country where I don’t have to worry about being bombed, for having a roof over our heads. There’s so much to be grateful for.

And so much to worry about.

It just feels bad, you know? The UK. It feels like nothing will make it better. Because where do you even start? It just feels like something bad is going to happen. Like we’re reaching a boiling point.

Usually, I try to combat this feeling of injustice by doing something practical and positive: buying extra stuff for the food bank or going on a litter pick or something. These are selfish acts of altruism because they relieve the sadness inside me. But I really do believe that you can only fight this kind of thing with kindness.

Game 7 - Fitness

Watch the lead pigeon, then copy his movements.

(Ah no, I’m not very good at this one.)

It’s just that sometimes it becomes too much. And I wonder if they know. Do they understand, when they lie and cheat and don’t stick to their own rules, when they move the goalposts, when they demonise the working classes, when they sneeringly dismiss us as irrelevant, do they know what they’re doing? To our psyches? To the mood of the country? Do they understand how they’re slowly draining the life and vibrancy out of this place and turning it into a hate-filled, paranoid, broken, litter-strewn cesspit? Do they get that?

I think they do know. And I think they don’t give a shit. In the end, they get to retire comfortably and never worry about anything again. They can build a ladder from the broken-toothed bodies of the common people, climb up there, and live in their little untouchable bubbles with all their wives and their lovers and their fancy wallpaper. Don’t worry, Rishi! You won’t have to deal with the poors up there.

Alright. Maybe I’m being a bit dramatic.

Game 8 - To The Sky

Listen to the song, copy it correctly to move upwards, try to get across the finish line first.



in dang-er

You know what, I can’t change it. I can stick my head in the sand. Like an ostrich (or, at a pathetic and ridiculous stretch, a confused pigeon).

Quiet, now. Focus.




I just need to stop thinking.

no more crumbs on earth

I can try to forget this feeling of slow-building dread.

fly fly


from earth, from earth, from earth

I’m in the zone, now. Tomorrow I’ll be more positive. I’ll do something nice for someone. And I’ll try to let it all wash over me again.




to the sky!

I can only try to forget.

to the sky to the sky

with rockets

Ah. I feel better now. I feel calmer.

And at least I’ve got Headbangers.