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Last Updated: Tuesday, 20 July, 2004, 11:40 GMT 12:40 UK
Beer-loving bird barred from pub
Thatcher's favourite tipple is Classic Blonde beer
A pub landlord has had to bar an unusual regular from his premises for stealing food and beer from customers.

The trouble-maker - a magpie nicknamed Thatcher - has been told he is no longer welcome at the King's Arms in Heath Common, Wakefield.

Landlord Alan Tate said the bird's antics had been amusing to start with but the novelty had worn off.

He said: "He had started walking on people's plates while they were eating and we had to refund a few meals."

The cheeky bird first started pecking on the windows of the King's Arms several weeks ago and fast became a favourite with the customers.

Health and safety

Mr Tate told BBC News Online: "He got more and more used to people and started nicking beer out of pint glasses.

"His favourite is the Classic Blonde which we have on - he went mad for that. He used to squawk at people who used to hide their pints from him."

But Thatcher soon grew bolder and started pinching crisps and then tucking into customers' Sunday lunches.
Pints of beer
Drinkers at the King's Arms had to hide their pints

He started coming into the pub building, where he was firmly discouraged by pub staff, who were concerned about health and safety rules.

Mr Tate said: "I couldn't have him in the pub if I wanted to so I had to bar him. If he comes in I've found the best way to get him out is to use something shiny.

"I'd use my bunch of keys, he would come over and sit on it and then I could carry him out."

Confined to the beer garden, Thatcher continued to cause havoc and hilarity in roughly equal measure until Monday, when Mr Tate said he had to bar him from there as well.

Shiny keys

He said: "It was getting too much - he was too mischievous and he used to attack children.

"He used to land on them and peck at their heads, which was funny to watch so long as it wasn't your kid."

Mr Tate has resisted suggestions by some that he should call in a pest control firm or have the bird shot.

He said: "He had to go but I didn't want to do what some people suggested I do to him, He's amused us all. He's a character and I couldn't do that to him."

Instead, he has resorted to locking him in the linen cupboard when he gets too troublesome, to keep him out of customers' way.

But he admits there is usually a treat or some slops left for the bird when he is released at closing time.

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