I don’t really need any more pets.
The boys are a great sufficiency thank you very much. In the past I’ve had a small ginger tom cat (who packed a bag and left in disgust after suffering the nightly humiliation of a great lolling spaniel tongue bath once too often), a hamster who shuffled off this mortal coil with a soft plaintive thud one evening, and fish….fish who mysteriously decided to leap from their tank on to the floor, an experiment in aquatic Darwinism perhaps or misplaced piscine optimism, that went disastrously wrong.
And I’ve never really had much time for birds. It’s not that I mean them any harm, I’m not ‘anti’ bird….it’s more ambivalence really, they just don’t do anything for me. If I were in a zoo I’d walk briskly through the aviary to get to the lions, tigers, monkeys, even the creepy crawlies. (Except for penguins of course – but I don’t count them as birds, after all they can’t fly?).
In fact the only bird I’ve ever really taken a liking to lived in a pet shop that I used to frequent and swore like a trooper at anyone that passed its cage. It was parrot, a venerable old bird with a wonderfully disgusting vocabulary and a strange aptitude for saying just the right thing - “Oy, f#cking put it down!!!” or “lard arse!!” were always good for a laugh at the discomfort of the uninitiated.
So, follow me, yesterday, to the park, in what was London but we now call the Thames flood plain.....and there in the long wet grass was, what at first glance looked like a discarded blue ribbon biscuit wrapper, but on closer inspection turned out to be a budgerigar. It didn’t look well. It flapped and rolled over and sort slipped, slithered deeper into the grass – not in an “I’m going to take off and fly in a moment” kind of way, more in an “oh bugger now I’m upside down” fashion.
Now as I mentioned, I’m not a huge fan of the genus but what the hey, I don’t particularly like to see any creature suffer. So I waded in to the grass and reached down to try to gently extricate it. It wasn’t as easy as I’d first thought. Of course Toffee and Charlie wanted to get involved and the budgie wasn’t as grateful for my attentions as it could have been. Obviously it wasn’t aware of my motives, so I forgive it, for all it knew I was going to feed it to the malevolent toilet brush (Charlie) that was so excited he looked like he might soil himself at any moment.
Several aborted attempts later, accompanied by lots of ‘pep talks’ to the dogs (“look just sod off for a moment!!!”) and the poor little thing was almost completely submerged in the grass – but at last, I managed to fold it’s wings and cup it in one hand.
It was tiny, and sodden. And it bit. The little blue budgie fit easily and entirely in one hand and gnawed away on my forefinger. It was quite endearing really and just on the edge of being painful, tiny as it was it wasn’t going to be done in without a fight.
We finished the walk holding the budgerigar. The dogs obviously thought it was a ball of some kind and that at any moment I was going to throw it for them. The budgie itself remained stolidly attached to my finger although I thought it relaxed a little when I stopped gently cooing and tried a different tack with a “pretty Polly” (so I’ve called it Dave, just to keep it on it’s toes).
In the van, the only thing to do was let it loose. I couldn’t exactly put it in my pocket could I? I did briefly consider the glove box, but that seemed a mite cruel considering its experience over the past hour or two.
So there you have it. I don’t have a cage at home so now Charlie, Toffee and Dave are roaming the plains of chez Fish in freedom. Opening the door onto the yard for the boy’s morning ablutions is slightly more complicated than it was. I expected to hear the flutter of budgie wings as it made a dash for freedom, but it was busy exploring the bathroom.
And birds aren’t so unpleasant after all…except they really do poo a lot don’t they?