After surviving eight years at the bottom of the pecking order in the middle of my large family, my pet parrot was moved into the relative quiet of my new husband’s and my flat. I continued to play with her daily when I changed her food and water, but hubby decided she needed more exercise. The parrot disagreed. She took an immediate dislike to him even more vehement than her hatred of my Mother. Unfortunately he did not react as calmly as Mum did. He took it as personal insult that Polly launched an attack on him the minute he went to unlock her cage. We had been forced to padlock the cage door ever since Polly discovered that she could open it herself. Anyway, he would insist on releasing her, all the while muttering, “Wretched bird! She needs disciplining!”
“Please don’t let her out. She’s fine.” My pleas fell on deaf ears and Polly would scramble out of the opened door onto the top of her cage. From there she would sit with wings half raised and beak poised to dart at hubby every time he was foolish enough to venture close. It did not improve matters when she continued to allow me to pick her up unmolested.
Then hubby decided to train her to have better manners – despite my reassurances that it was nothing personal, she treated Mum and my sister exactly the same. Every time she lunged at him he tapped her on the beak with the fly swat. Did that help matters? Of course not! The parrot responded by ruffling up her feathers and dancing about angrily in top of her cage. And every time I would have to pick her up to stroke her and calm her down . . .
Matters came to a head one night when I returned from shopping to find a very crestfallen husband.
“Er! I’m not sure how to tell you. Polly has flown out of the window!”
I went hysterical – ranting and raving about what would happen to her out there in the gathering dusk vulnerable to predators – including human ones who would catch her and make her into parrot-pie. Then as I drew breath he suggested going outside to look for her.
Our fiat backed onto the hostel of a boarding school so we started by going there and asking if the kids had seen a grey parrot with a red tail. No. Then we scoured the rough ground in the vicinity of the kitchen window. No luck. And it was growing darker by the minute. “It’s no use!” exclaimed my husband at the same moment as I noticed a flash of white on a rock ahead of me. There, shivering with cold or fright or both was my beloved parrot. I had spotted the white flash that surrounded her eye. I scooped her up into my hands with relief.
Of course Mum found out about the incident – and the terrible rows that my hubby and I had been having. “This is ridiculous,” she asserted. “I am not having your marriage destroyed by a bird. Polly is coming back with me.”
Did I miss her? Yes, terribly. Ten months later we left for England and by that time there was a ban on importing parrots, so Polly stayed behind. And five years later, when my Parents upped sticks and took the rest of my family to the USA they gave the parrot to friends who had an aviary.