The pigeons adore him. They must know him, though how, I can't be sure. Does he smell of pigeon? He smells but it's mostly BO. His long, wavy, grey hair hasn't been washed for decades, possibly; he also has a long grey beard, so that he resembles a slightly grubby wizard. He has "local character" stamped all over him. When the pigeons land on him, he stands very still, though I've seen them cling on happily if he strolls about on the grass, his arms outstretched. They land on his head, shoulders, arms and flock about him with much flapping of wings. This morning I heard him say, "hello, my little friends." It was rather sweet. He's utterly harmless and I don't think he has lost a single marble. He's not a tramp or a nutter and he looks as if he might actually be capable of interesting conversation.
Sometimes accompanying him is a small woman in a smart but very old suit, whom I presume is his wife/partner. I've seen them in the supermarket together on occasion, reduced to the ordinary but not ordinary at all: he has a distance in his eyes that makes me think he suffers in a supermarket the way I do. Too many people, too much noise, too bright, too grasping. As I've recently started talking to the squirrels I feed, I suspect that I may be heading in the same direction as Pigeon Man.......though hopefully better groomed and washed, and possibly better at pretending to be normal. It goes without saying that the squirrels love him too, and climb up all over him.
There are several characters in Bloomsbury whom I see around the squares, feeding the wildlife. I once had a conversation with a tall woman who carries several shopping bags around with her, resembling - slightly - a bag lady, though she's certainly not homeless. She has rather wild white hair that she dyes an occasional pinky-orange. I once had a long conversation with her on a smaller square where she was feeding enormous walnuts to squirrels. She called them "darling" (I call them "sweetie") and they knew her well enough to rummage about in her bags looking for the nuts they knew were there. What surprised me about her was the poshness of her accent. She was clearly educated and intelligent and made me think of that phrase "gentile poverty." We discussed squirrels and trees and Kew and though she told me her name, I've since forgotten it.
She's also friends with Pigeon Man and if I was a better person, I would get to know them more. I wonder what they talk about? Squirrels? Nuts? Pigeons? Trees? The meaning of life?