By Jane Hyphen
The problem is most people just don’t realise how long we’re going to live.’
‘Agreed Geoffrey. Humans and their “see it, gotta have it” attitude. Bloody ridiculous. Well, they won’t rehome me, not if I can help it. I’m happy here with you and Captain.’
Captain was nodding his head up and down, not only his head but most of his body too. It was a habit he developed during “the isolation years” between 2002 and 2004 when he was all alone in a dark room. When he was done plucking all his chest feathers out, until it looked like a piece of ham, he took to nodding as a way to release his anxiety.
Bob craned his head and the feathers on top stood on end. ‘Oh cut that out Captain,’ he said, ‘it makes me feel exhausted just watching you!’
‘I can’t, I can’t help it. You guys have no idea the pressure of being in a music video, what it does to you, it’s wretched.’
‘Really? It can’t have been that bad, you certainly looked well fed in the video,’ said Geoffrey.
Captain looked crestfallen. ‘Oh don’t start that again. They put me in slow motion, they made me look stupid, going back and forth like a fool, perched next to a total prat in a beret.’
‘Captain Sensible,’ said Bob while twirling around and around on his perch. ‘You know he was in The Damned before and I believe he joined again after all that weird shit he had to get out of his system.’
‘Well some people loved that weird shit, they loved Happy Talk but if I hear it, I’m sick, it’s just a physiological reaction. They gave me so many Brazil nuts during filming that I was bloated, if you watch the video, you can see how bloated I was. Notice they never put me on the live shows, for that he used a stuffed parrot, and I was treated like one, when all the fame was over with. Brazil nuts for sacrificing my dignity! The thing is, all I wanted to eat was Raymond Burns’s eyes. I wanted to peck them out.’
‘Who the fuck is Raymond Burns when he’s at home? Wee oo wee oo wee oo wee oo.’
‘Oi! stop that Bob, we don’t want sirens this afternoon. They do my head in.’
‘You know I can’t help it, I grew up in Croydon.’
‘Raymond Burns, I thought you'd know that my friend, is Captain Sensible. He left a perfectly good band to become a professional pillock.’
‘The Damned were a great band,’ said Geoffrey as he gently preened the feathers on his chest. ‘The lead singer looked hot singing Eloise, I remember that, on Top of the Pops, I used to watch so much telly when I was in the theatre, and football too, my previous owner was a keen Manu fan. David Vanian, I can see him now, he had a white shirt on, open at the chest.’
‘Eloise, yeah yeah yeah, Eloise...wee oo wee oo wee oo wee oo.’
‘How do you know that song Bob?’
‘Oh, from when I lived in the pet shop Geoffrey, in Croydon, the guy there always had Kerrang on. I know quite a lot about rock music.'
There was a few moments of silence then Captain, dipped his head a few times and said, ‘Hey Geoffrey, I didn’t know you were gay.’
‘What?’ Geoffrey stood up tall and his crest went up towards the sky. ‘I didn’t know I had to announce it,’ he said defensively.
‘Well you could have come out to us,’ said Bob, ‘we’re all friends here aren’t we?’
‘I don’t have to come out. I’m a parrot!’ said Geoffrey and he bounced across to another perch away from the other two and turned around several times in quick succession.
Suddenly, Charlie in the aviary next door, affected by the tension in the atmosphere, burst into one of his mobile phone medleys. At full volume he produced perfect versions of Nokia, Sony Ericsson, i-phone Marimba then back to Nokia for four minutes solid.
‘Fucks sake,’ said Bob, tucking his head into one wing, then the other.
Captain went into a head nodding fit and Geoffrey spun around on his perch until Charlie was silent again.
‘He’ll always be alone, he'll never get rehomed, not while he’s got that,’ said Captain.
‘Well there’s no cure for Ringtone Tourettes, we know that so we’re stuck with him. At least my police sirens are intermittent, aren’t they? Come on guys, I’m not as bad as Charlie am I?’
‘No, no you’re not,’ said Geoffrey. ‘Captain would have pecked your eyes out if you were.’
The birds were disturbed by the sound of human voices and footsteps approaching. ‘Oh shit,’ said Captain, ‘It’s Mr Burrows and some bloody bird rescuers. Just act as intolerable as possible and I’m sure we’ll be okay.’
Mr Burrows approached the parrot section, wearing a white coat and clutching his clipboard as a retired couple observed the birds with folded arms, chuckling to themselves. Initially all the parrots looked terrified, giving the humans side-eye stares with the feathers on top of their brightly coloured heads experiencing involuntary erections, making them appear inches taller than they were.
‘Now these are our wonderful parrots. There’s Charlie there, he’s twenty four and has had several homes, including a garden centre and a fertility clinic.’
‘Really?’ said the woman. ‘He’s extremely handsome. I think I’d ovulate on the spot if I saw him in the lobby of a fertility clinic.’
Mr Burrows raised his eyebrows and the woman’s husband frowned and scratched his head, releasing a drift of dandruff onto his shoulders. Charlie launched immediately into the iPhone Marimba, following it with the most obnoxious screech in his repertoire. The couple shifted towards the aviary containing Captain, Geoffrey and Bob. Captain jumped towards the bars so that he was hanging from his feet, very close to Mr Burrows. ‘Oh he looks more friendly,’ said the husband but Captain was observing Mr Burrows for the presence of a banana.
‘He used to be in showbiz,’ said Mr Burrows, ‘he’s been in some music video or other, Madness maybe, or perhaps Duran Duran, I don’t know, we have so many birds here, some of them have celebrity credentials but they live for such a tediously long time.’
Captain turned around so that his bottom was facing the couple, then he went upside down, exposing the parts which are not usually seen on a parrot. He strained hard and pushed a wet poo out between the bars so that it landed at their feet. ‘Oooh yuck,’ said the woman. ‘I don’t think he likes us.’
‘And this red one is Bob, he lived in a pet shop in Croydon for the first three years of his life, then with an elderly lady, she sadly went into a home but they wouldn’t take him coz he was too young so he came here and he’s been here ever since.’
Bob jumped from perch to perch emitting his loudest siren continuously. ‘Oh wow,’ said the man, ‘it’s like watching an episode of The Bill.’
‘You love The Bill, ‘said his wife.
‘Not the siren bit. What about the other one, is he quieter?’
Mr Burrows coughed and said, ‘That’s our gentle Geoffrey, funnily enough, he was also in showbiz, he used to live with a stage actor and he spent a lot of time in the dressing room at a famous theatre in London. He can sing some songs really well. Hey Geoffrey, can you sing The Time Warp for us?’ Geoffrey silently gave Mr Burrows a death look. ‘Oh come on Geoffrey I know you can do it, honestly, he can sing it to perfection. I always hear it when my back is turned, usually while I’m sorting the mice out for the owls.’
Geoffrey twirled round and round trying to think of his best swear word, then very quietly he sang, ‘But listen….not for very much longer,’ There followed a few seconds of quiet then he raised his voice to its highest volume and continued, ‘my old man to be a city fan,’
‘Ah,’ said the husband, ‘my dad used to sing this.’
Geoffrey moved closer to the couple and continued, ‘and I said bollocks you’re a cun….’
‘He sometimes has a funny moment,’ Mr Burrows interrupted and made a random tick on his clipboard.
The woman squirmed on her sandals, ‘Can we go and look at the finches now?’
‘Of course,’ said Mr Burrows and the three humans wandered off in the direction of the smaller birds.
‘Thank god for that,’ said Bob, ‘those are the sort of people that act all sweet and caring but when times are tough, they use you as a chicken substitute.’
Captain changed perches and began to flick his beak back and forth in the food bowl. ‘I hate humans, after being kept alone in the dark for two years, you don’t trust anyone anymore. Who ate all the dried papaya?’
‘It’s getting chilly,’ said Geoffrey. ‘Do you mind if I snuggle next to you Bob?’
‘Erm..’ Bob stiffened up and his feathers stood on end, he stepped farther away from Geoffrey on their shared perch.
‘Oh come on,’ said Geoffrey, ‘you’re hardly David Vanian, you can’t wear a shirt for a start, let alone wear it unbuttoned.’
Bob relaxed, trotted back and said, ‘I suppose. I don’t know why I was being like that. Hey we haven’t heard The Time Warp in a while Geoffrey, can you sing it for us as a lullaby?’
‘No,’ Geoffrey’s eyes were closing now, ‘Sorry, I’ve had The Monster Mash going round in my head all day long. It’s really annoying actually.’
Captain finished eating and hopped up next to his friend. The sky darkened and one after the other they tucked their feathery little heads into their wings and went to sleep.