On Christmas Day 2018, I was invited to lunch at my friends Jo & Chris’ place. Their home is in a gully surrounded by tall trees, a cool haven on a hot day.
Besides, our crowd of about 12 of us, the 3 dogs and 2 chooks, some local birds dropped in. You could hear the Rainbow Lorikeets squawking before you saw them. They’re raucous clowns.
Then, a rarer King Parrot got braver.
… gorgeous in its scarlet and green in the heat of the day.
The household chooks paid no mind, just got down to business. What a cloak of feathers!
It was the sudden appearance of his mate that made me go out and stare at her. She made not a sound. I had to get closer … get a photo. What a gift! I love wild birds.
They say King Parrots are not good talkers. They say that as pets they can live 25 years. They say Rainbow Lorikeets can be better talkers and can live 20 years. I hate to see them in cages.
I once had a hairdresser who expected his two South American parrots to outlive him and had instructions in his Will to cover this eventuality.
Now I recall a ballad I came upon about King George V (Queen Elizabeth 11’s grandfather). Here, in Australia, he’s remembered as the then Duke of Cornwall and heir to the British throne who formally opened the inaugural session of our Australian Parliament in May 1901. The area in front of Brisbane City Hall is named after him – King George Square, site of civic celebrations and festivities.
The story goes that George had a pet parrot. When he was 12 he and his older brother were sent to do a stint in the Royal Navy. As a 17 year old Midshipman on HMS Bucchante, he bought himself an African Grey on shore leave in Port Said.
‘Charlotte’ became a very good talker and the King’s longtime friend. She would call out phrases like “Where’s the Captain?” and “God Save the King!” Here’s an extract from that ballad composed by one of my favourite English poets, Charles Causley – When George the Fifth Was a Midshipman –
When the King was ill and ailing
And very nearly died
They shut her out of the bedroom;
Left her in the passage outside.
Bless my buttons! said Charlotte.
But when his illness was ended
She was first at His Majesty’s bed;
Danced for joy on the pillow
And over his anointed head.
God saved the King! said Charlotte.
Of course there are more stories about parrots. You must know one! The old favourite about the cat and the parrot. Can you recall the first parrot you ever met? … I’ll tell a Nasruddin Hodja story about ‘Why a turkey is more valuable than a parrot’ at our next Storytelling Unplugged session on Hodja tales in February. OK?
NB “Curves” Lens_artists #28 photo challenge made me think of parrots’ beaks for some reason! We’ll see how it goes …
Australian King Parrot. Accessed 12 January 2019 https://www.wikiwand.com/en/Australian_king_parrot
CAUSLEY, Charles Jack and the Treacle Eater. Illustrations by Charles Keeping. London, Macmillan, 1987.pp 29-31.
George V- Wikiwand. Accessed 12 January 2019. https://www.wikiwand.com/en/George_V
Lorikeets the Clowns .Accessed 12 January 2019 http://www.betterpetsandgardens.com.au/pet-care/birds-and-poultry/keeping-lorikeets/
All text (except quote) and photos by Meg
Story Twigs the Imagination! by Meg Philp is Copyright © under Australian Law.