Bunhill: Mutual irritation

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The Independent Online
IN A MEDIEVAL corner of Hitchin, National Mutual Life Assurance Society is causing quite a flutter in the Hertfordshire town where it has made its headquarters. The life office is having trouble with squatters - big, long-necked, web-footed, feathered ones.

National Mutual's pristine offices stand in the grounds of a 14th-century monastery known as the Priory, where Henry VIII's reformers turfed out the Carmelite monks 455 years ago this very month.

The buildings are surrounded by acres of well-tended, tree-clad parkland with lots of grass and a river. Geese like that sort of thing. But geese, especially the Canada variety, honk enthusiastically and eat a lot of grass.

National Mutual has recently taken to sending in shotgun-toting executioners on quiet Sunday afternoons - when the offices and a neighbouring conference centre are empty - to silence the birds and thus rid the designer lawns of evidence of their eating habits. I don't know what National Mutual staff or conference visitors make of this policy of extermination.

But one can assume that the geese are not pleased. Bunhill can also report that people living near the Priory are distressed at the increasingly sparse formations of the birds making periodic circuits of the old town. Not to mention having their weekend tranquillity shattered by gunfire.

Did they say 'life' office?

(Photograph omitted)

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