I am standing in the front room with a small bird on my head, which was not how I expected my day to turn out.
Let it not be said that I lead an uneventful life. Maria, the housekeeper, has just explained that she will be away for Easter, and so responsibility for the feeding of the parrots must fall to me until next week. Now, I have no problem with reaching into the cockatiel and small bird cages in the other rooms. I am not afraid of caged birds.There is always a door to slam closed if they lunge at you.
However, I feel that it’s slightly different to walk into two converted rooms which now serve as an aviary, and which contain somewhere between half a dozen and ten (they won’t keep still for long enough for me to count) exotic feathered creatures, including two incredibly beautiful but undeniably gigantic Macaws.
Maria is trying to show me how to change the food bowls and replace the water and so on, but I am not listening to a word she says. The small parrot on my head is not causing me any significant problems (in fact, I feel quite proud of its being there, like Kiki), but there is now a slightly larger one on my left shoulder, and it is unashamedly trying to steal my glasses. When I protest (for I need my glasses more than it does), it becomes disgruntled, and a disgruntled parrot is – I have learned – not a pleasant thing to have next to one’s delicate earlobe.
Possibly intrigued by the flapping and squawking, one of the enormous Macaws wanders over, and becomes immediately fascinated by my toes, which are poking out of my sandals. I back away from it, still trying to detach a South African Grey from my earlobe, and it cocks its head to the side, watching my toes with bright, interested eyes. It’s kind of cute, actually. Maybe we shall become friends, and I can teach it to say “Dammit!” like Jack Bauer.
Attention… pieds… attention!
Maria issues a hurried warning, and I see that the Macaw is lunging towards my feet. I howl as I realise that I am about to permanently lose a big toe, Maria sprinkles the Macaw with water in an attempt to scare it away, the South African Grey shrieks directly into my eardrum, and the small bird falls off my head with much indignant flapping and squawking. I realise that my hands are up in an instinctive effort to form a protective shield around my face, and Maria gently but firmly guides me, quivering and whimpering, out of the Bird Apartment.
We are going to try again tomorrow. I will be wearing boots, and my glasses will be securely fastened to my head (I am not yet sure how).
I will not be beaten.