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Saturday, 28 March 2009

Thinking Hat, Inspiration and, "Let's talk like Shakespeare"

Let's see, what can I post today? "Errr ! . . Umm ! . . Errr !"

If you're watching David, the dark lighting is intentional because at that moment I was 'in the dark' without even a 'flash' of inspiration. Taken at dusk f8 at 1/60 sec.

Do I remind you of a deep thinking Plato? or perhaps Socrates? Definitely from the same stable, do you not think? Don't be fooled by the rather vacant external features - inside there is a positive boiler house of activity and inspiration. Can you detect very powerful electrical impulses jumping from dendrite to dendron and flashes from left to right cerebral hemispheres? Truly inspirational!

But what about positive, creative thoughts for my post - anything there? Nothing riveting as yet, alas. But wait! Hold on a minute - something is coming! At the end of this post I wish to make an announcement concerning
a preview of forthcoming attractions.
But first, I wish to propose something entirely revolutionary - that is I wish to start a new movement to encourage people to speak in Shakespearean style again. We cannot emulate this great man of course but perhaps we could be Francis Bacons. This would be wonderful and very poetic! I am ashamed for I have not read any of Shakespeare's works for ages - his book of genius has been collecting dust on my shelf for years and I was inspired to have a look at it again recently . . . . . but it was gone! Knicked by my daughter, Francesca, bless her, when she went to University 4 years ago. Never mind - you may keep it my dear and I will get another soon.
My blank face on the photo represents the sheer effort I made on my previous post about 'Harley' when tried to write in blank verse - remember, when I ended up almost murdering Shakespeare. Some of you were too kind and did not have me arrested for heresy! I was trying to translate modern day sayings into how the Bard might have penned them for the Harley article but since this I have found I have been imagining everyday translations into Shakesperean and have been going around everywhere thinking in pseudo-Shakespearean.
At work I was asked by my boss where was my colleague Richard and I replied, "Tarry a while good Sir, for Richard cometh at this very hour, nay this very minute!" He looked at me as though I was bonkers.
Another example was when I attended the funeral of my good friend, Nora, earlier in the week and we met her grand daughter for the first time at the family reception after the funeral. When I saw Leanne I said to her, "Good morrow, fine lady, ye are a maiden of such beauty, the like I have not set eyes upon this very week, nay this very year even. Tell me I pray, how can it be that one so fair as ye can spring from the loins of that plain father whom I know so well." I was amazed when she replied, "I thank ye good Sir for your words so generous and for those rare compliments so fine - my lashes of mine eyes so long and fair do now but flutter in the wind - come sup with me fine Sir and we shall have a merry conversation with words so free and plenty. Come, you may embrace me on my cheek". Wonderful, if any young lad is looking in and wondering how to talk to ladies, try it in Shakespearean, you will not get your face slapped, I promise. She will see in you a man of class.
I did wonder, how on Earth did William keep it up, verse after verse, play after play, year after year? Obviously a measure of his genius and we know there now is an enormous following. Yet he was popular even during his own day, wasn't he?
I wondered whether they all talked like that in the Elizabethan era, 400 years ago, or was it just William? Surely not! OK he may have been a bit more verbose than others and obviously knew how to hatch and develop a plot or two and craft a canny story but he would hardly go home from work and say to Anne Hathaway, "Thank goodness I'm home, I can let my hair down now and talk properly for a change". It must have been the language of the day, so I wondered how Queen Elizabeth might have spoken to someone with whom she was displeased. Perhaps, "Pray good Sir, you have grieved me to the core and before this very day is gone I will have your head! Come, guards! escort this vile and evil man to my Tower and make him speak his secrets". They were all very polite with their "Good Sirs and Good Ladies", weren't they even when they were extremely annoyed or were about to kill or murder someone. We are not nearly as polite today - shame on us. The executioner might have spoken, "Good Sir! My sharpened axe is thirsty for your blood and at that appointed hour it will fall like falcon from the sky and sever that receptacle which houseth thine brains and thoughts from thine lifeless body. Aloft shall thine head be held whilst dripping blood, whilst from thy body jets of blood will shoot into the very air." Imagine that poor chap with his head on the block. He might say, "Prithee thee to make good speed with thine act so vile, for mine knees do quake and I am all a dither - kindly make my future dark and blank with utmost speed kind Sir."
I looked up William on google and asked, "How many children did William Shakespeare have?" The answer was, "How the heck do I know!" Yet in another place I learned, three - not many for those days and I wondered why. I have a suggestion the answer might lie in the language Bill used to Anne. For perhaps when the mood of love arose between them he might have concentrated a little too much on his words of love, this hindering his natural progress. Consequently he might have said something like, "Good lady Anne, I am not yet ready for the task that lies before me! Tarry a while and watch mine manhood bloom and blossom like a rose before your very eyes!" Oh Bill, you've blown it again! That's a passion killer if ever I've heard one. She'll start laughing and be no longer in the mood so you'll have to start all over again and when you do she'll start to laugh again. She might remark, "Good husband, I do not mock but merely show my mirth, for you amount to almost nought this day and to me you are as a little boy. Methinks we should postpone this pleasure 'til another day! But hark! I think two titles for thine plays with which ye wrestle, 'Much Ado About Nothing' and 'A Comedy Of Errors', my husband dear". "Anne you are an inspiration to behold, of former matters I will return this hour tomorrow but for now make haste whilst my mind reguritates sheer genius - tarry no longer, 'a pen - a pen my Kingdom for a pen', for I have Macbeth's soliloquy germinating in my brain and I wouldst make these words immortal, "Two truths are told as happy prologues to the swelling act of the Imperial theme . . . . . . . " Great William, you may have your inspiration but as for your wooing, you've had your chips, mate! Anyway that's my theory.
I noticed that some of Shakespeare is very rude and that's the beauty of this language really because if we all spoke in Shakespearean respectability comes into play and we can say whatever we want with no offence at all. There would be no Political Correctness to worry about - true freedom of speech would return to our shores.
I did wonder if , "Perchance had I liveth in a bygone age I would pen a tale so eloquent that even mighty bloggers would fall headlong base over apex in their rush, like a speeding arrow, to read my works of wonder". Yet 'perchance to dream' just a little, had Shakespeare been a blogger he would win David's POTD every single day, week after week, day after day, year after year. Poor old David would have to post him as winner every single time and recommend us to visit William to congratulate him on POTD for King Lear one day, Macbeth another day, Hamlet another day and so on. Further all 676 of David's followers (sorry 677, sorry 678, sorry 679) would have to make a comment of congratulation to William and poor old Bill would feel obliged to comment back to us, as accepted blogging protocol, every single time. It would take up so much of his time that he would not have any time remaining to create future masterpieces.

My wife thinks I spend too much time blogging and whereas I think she is correct "methinks the lady doth protest too much." I had better regulate my efforts otherwise you will be saying, "Alas, poor Eddie, we knew him well!"

Now ladies and gentlemen, do you agree with me that it would be really nice to talk Shakespearean again? Now I have had my say.

Enough of Shakespeare for now - I have to relay to you I have upset Danny the Paramedic at work because he has a 1350cc Kawasaki motor bike and all that stuff I wrote about the mighty Harley Davidson has caused him to complain, "What about my bike? It's much faster!" I said to him, "Danny, just look at the state of that bike, it's filthy - just clean it up a bit and I will take some photos and then I will write some lies about it. OK?"

Right with all that out of the way I have just remembered what I was going to say, right at the beginning of my post.

Preview of forthcoming attractions
I am presenting a serialised humourous play soon about my family tree research and some very interesting experiences and historical fact and fiction that took place in 1891. I have added some bits and pieces and changed some names around so that my ancestors do not return and haunt me like Banquo's ghost. I hope to have it ready soon. Until then goodbye my friends.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Oh Harley! Oh Harley! . . . A Marvel of Engineering

Behold this regal magnificence of classical tradition
So engineered by genius, a pinnacle of man's inventiveness.
My countenance conveys such majesty, such strength, such beauty,
Not seen since my creation by mere men amongst the gods.
An endless shower of praise and accolade rain upon my face.

My mighty chest expands and swells with worthy pride
Consider then my purpose and exceptional design
A powerhouse so supreme all others fall before me.
Yet while I sleep I am the object of awe and fascination
For how could mere mortals fashion such perfection?

Beneath my face of steel, reflecting light in flight before me
There lies a noble heart; a symphony of mighty moving parts
Which when commanded will awaken and create such terror
That all creation will know I am the rightful king of princes.
Those mere upstarts who would dare contest my reign
Are not mine heirs but false pretenders to my throne.

Behold I awake and stir and in due season set in motion
All those inward parts of muscle and steel sinew, which
Will cause those fools which dare rival my own authority
To bow down one by one and kneel before their king.
I roar! again, my thunderous bellow of a roar - like a beast possessed
Is but a prelude to such marvels which my power will fashion.

Now I stir and make the very air surrender to each blast of fury.
Hot gas and blood from deep within my furnace are expelled
As each deep-throated roar progresses to my next astonishment.
For my engine doth but idle and my true task not begun.
Yet now it's due season for my full majesty to come of age.

My heart and lungs they spring to life with deafening ferocity.
Claps of heavy thunder blasts cascade to mute all other sounds
As my real power engages into drive, propelling me to speedy motion
In a cacophony of canon fire with ever wild crescendo
Commanding every face in awe to gaze in my direction.

I fly, I fly like eagle's wings and with all my energy so harnessed
I still find yet another gear to fly the faster when my master orders
And whatever thrust required of me it will be met in plenty.
Now hear this you pretenders and mere princes who would have my crown
Get in rank! - you shall not have it for your pedigree will not stand the test of time

. . . like mine.

Says Mrs Bluelights, " . . . . . . and I don't know why you're rabbiting on and on about it, ducky, it's only and motor bike!"

"There come and sit down my dear, drink your cup of coffee and have a bag of crisps, my dear and then you will feel much better! All this blogging is very bad for you and I have lots of jobs for you to do!"

This Harley Davidson, parked in the Ambulance garage, belongs to one of my Ambulance colleagues. It goes like the clappers and makes a fantastic din. We can hear him coming half a mile away! Apologies for those who have Ducati bikes - I am told they are even better!
But shhh! Harley is very sensitive and I don't want to upset this sleeping giant. I've had enough roaring for one day!

Written by Eddie Bluelights March 2009 Copyright Eddie Bluelights March 2009

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Mickey, the Love-Sick Budgie

By popular demand I am pleased to post the sequel to Mickey, the Celibate Budgie, since this little chap seems to have captured a fair number of hearts, mainly from the ladies - come on lads, where are your hearts? You've got them too you know!

I will not reiterate the sheer academic genius of this extraordinary little budgie, only to underline his vast repertoire and understanding of the English Language at the expense of great personal sacrifice, dealt with in detail in his first story.

Towards his autumn years we detected far less zeal in his behaviour; he became much quieter and far less eager to talk to us and learn new words. Yes, he still 'clouted' his plastic bird from time to time and attacked his cuttlefish and mirror like an out-of-control maniac sometimes, but generally he seemed far from happy.

Our concern grew regarding his depression so one day I attempted to cheer him up. I recalled a story of 'Whitey', my girl cousin and I visiting our local zoo while she was staying with us and Grandma. Whitey wore an elaborate silver bracelet belonging to her mother. We visited the bird house and were attracted by a large former sea-faring red parrot with a remarkable repertoire, but extremely verbose in undesirable swear word adjectives. He was tethered with a chain around one leg and perched in the open so he had some free movement. Suddenly, with utmost speed, whilst uttering, "Silver, silver, silver!", he launched himself at Whitey's hand, grabbing her silver bracelet in his beak, laughing so loudly and causing everyone to look round. He rolled the bracelet in his beak into a silver ball, completely ruining it, and would not let it go in spite of our serious attempts to retrieve it. Our battle was lost and so was the bacelet, lost for ever. Alarmed and terrified of what her mother might do concerning the disappearance of the bracelet Whitey decided her best option was simply to tell her mother she had mislaid it somewhere instead of it being eaten by a parrot. A few weeks later when she had returned home we sent her a photograph of that parrot, minus the silver ball, adding the caption, 'Telecarb Retae'. It sounds quite a plausible Latin type name for a parrot, doesn't it? However, reading backwards it reads 'Bracelet Eater'. Her mother never 'cottoned on' and neither did Whitey, without the 'enigma' machine to crack the code. Mickey thought this story very funny and nodded his head violently whilst sqwalking for a couple of minutes.
However his mirth did not last long. I decided to have it out with him once and for all. I called him over and he flew onto my outstretched finger. I asked him what was the matter and he became sheepish and embarrassed.
Perched on my finger he proceeded to tell me he was a love-sick bird. He was regretting his living a life of celibacy and longed for some female company. Further, he knew he was way past his prime and therefore would have a great problem attracting a hen even if he had the chance. He was 'sweet sixty five' and never been kissed and thought he might be a candidate for the Guinness Book of Records. He imagined what it would be like to 'bill and coo' like other normal budgies. Also he was worried he would be at a loss to know what to say and what to do to develop any meaningful relationship. After some thought I said I would have a word with our local pet shop owner and explain the situation. I must stress he was not the infamous pet shop owner from Bolton or Ipswich of Python Parrot Sketch notoriety. The man I knew was honest and perhaps he might agree for Mickey to visit some hens in a large cage in the shop for a while. It was quickly agreed and Mickey was so excited he recited all his favourite sayings at the top of his voice, with a new spring in his step.

A day before his little holiday he got really nervous about what he should do when actually meeting an attractive member of the opposite sex and how he could subtly get the message of his honourable intentions across to her. After all he had missed so much of life's experiences. I thought it time to lay it on the line for him to get a firm grasp of the 'art of flirting' so natural and essential in our world. I found my little book entitled, "How to tell if a girl fancies you" which I thought would do nicely to explain acceptable approaches to young ladies. Yes, it would have to be modified somewhat for the 'birds of the air' but perhaps it might help him.

"OK! Mickey, rule number one - Smarten up, have a good preen and when you see a hen you like keep your mouth firmly shut. At this stage it's not about what you say, it's about body language and chemistry. It's 90% unspoken attraction and just 10% what you say - if she likes the 90% it does not matter at this stage what you say, within reason, for the remaining 10%. If she does not find you attractive you can say what you like for as long as you like and you will be banging your head against a brick wall. Also, she has to be unattached and actually in the market for a suitor - if not she will reject your advances as unwanted. Don't make a nuisance of yourself.

Rule number two - At your age even if you like the look of a young bird don't waste your time - they want the fast talking, handsome and virile young male birds and therefore you do not stand a chance. Pick someone older who might be a widow or a spinster for some reason. They are rarer but you might still find a good looking hen out there who might actually be looking for a suitor. You may be just what she wants. You never know.

Rule number three - Make eye contact first, but careful, do not stare - it might put her off. Remember our eyes are the windows of our souls! Very important! When your eyes meet smile at her. If she smiles back you should be encouraged. If she looks away and then looks back and smiles again, you can be sure she likes you. Smile back at her to signal you like her. If she does the equivalent in budgie of flicking her hair and grooming herself to look smart, then she is keen. If you are a bit thick and cannot recognise her positive signals and she likes you then she will take the initiative. She will walk past you and fly or walk close to you for any reason she can invent so she can just to catch your attention. She will occasionally look you in the eye and smile at you. (Not sure how to recognise a smile in the budgie world though).

Rule number four - If when you are quite close you notice her feet pointing towards you then she definitely fancies you. If they are pointing elsewhere she doesn't find you attractive and is prepared for a quick get away.

Rule number five - Assuming she likes you it is time for you to pluck up courage to walk up to her, keep eye contact without staring obviously, look from one eye to the other and introduce yourself, something like, "Hello, my name is Mickey".

Now stop right there! She is an older bird and will be very familiar with all those corny and over-used chat up lines young birds will use like, 'Where have I been all your life?' or 'Your place or mine baby?'

Horrible! You have to be more refined for older ladies, something like, 'Hello, my name is Mickey. I hope you don't think I'm being forward but I would love a bit of company. I would be honoured if you would join me for a chat and share my millet and cuttlefish."

Stop! Wait for a reply. If she likes you she will accept - if not she will tell you to 'shove off'.

Rule number six - If she responds positively to your verbal overtures, keep it up, talk to her and listen to what she is saying and converse with her freely and naturally, all the time gazing into her eyes. If her pupils dilate she is beginning to really like you. You will be sending the same unconscious signals to her during this time. If she looks at your eyes then looks down to your beak and then back to your eyes she wants you to kiss her. Don't disappoint her, do it, but be a gentleman and don't get too enthusiastic too soon. Now that's enough I think or you will get confused. The rest is up to you."
With those ground rules in play and a game plan in his mind, Mickey was taken to the pet shop and introduced into the cage with hens. Nothing obvious happened for a while but Mickey seemed to pluck up courage and concentrate on one of the ladies. I did not want to embarrass him so I left him alone and went home. Next day I had a call from the pet shop owner to say Mickey was causing such a commotion that he thought I should collect him and take him home.
When I got to the pet shop I noticed feathers all over the floor and Mickey was sitting alone on one side of the cage while the hens were nattering away to each other.

When we got home my crest fallen Mickey was sulking in the corner of his cage. He said, "Women! why did I want to bother with them? They all ganged up against me and really clipped my wings - did you see all my feathers in the cage?"
Later told me what had occurred. Trust him to choose a young lady who from his description of her behaviour I can liken only to Miss Elizabeth Bennet from that marvellous book, Pride and Prejudice. Lady Catherine de Burg was quite correct in her description of Miss Bennet being a 'head strong young lady'. This bird promptly rejected all 'Mr Darcy's' advances, remarking that Mickey reminded her of a much older and uglier version of Mr Collins, whom she had rejected outright in the book. Mickey quickly tired of Miss Bennet's insistence of embarking on an intellectual sparring match to Elizabethan music, without even the sexual overtones of the original book, particularly after she informed him in no uncertain terms that nothing on this earth would induce her to marry him even if he was the last budgie on earth.
With that bombshell in his pipe which was smoking profusely he turned his attention to a nice yellow hen, an older bird, who seemed at first to respond nicely to his initial courtship overtures - his eye contact and body language seemed to work well up to a point, but he floundered dramatically when he opened his mouth thus ruining all his hard preparatory work. He boldly approached her to strike up conversation and it all seemed to go wrong.
"What did you say to her?", I enquired.
Mickey replied, "I went up to her boldly and said, "Who's a pretty, pretty, pretty boy then?"
"Oh Mickey you might have known that saying things like that would not exactly 'ring her chimes'. She wanted to hear something much more romantic like, 'What a lovely smile you have, I noticed you straight away when I entered the cage', or 'Now we are alone together I must say you have such lovely eyes; I am sorry if I appear to be staring a little too much but I find you so attractive I cannot help it'. That's what all women like to hear - they want to be flattered and not have some idiot coming over to them and flouting himself as God's gift to every budgie hen walking planet Earth. Did you talk to her in English or Budgie?"
"Budgie!" was the reply, "I took great care as well to do a literal translation."
"What did she say?"
"She said I was a self opinionated old fart who was old enough to be her father and she thought me an extremely arrogant male chauvinist pig!" Further she went on to say I was no Brad Pitt of the budgie world either. My word, didn't she slap my face?"
"The next one I liked was even older but still quite nice but I messed that one up as well."
"What did you say to her, then?" "I recited, "Georgie Porgy kissed the girls and made them cry!"
She looked at me very surprised and said, "Are you alright? You must be bonkers if you think that will 'turn my lights on'. I've heard better chat up lines in a mortuary! You certainly could not charm me out of a burning cage!"
The next hen Mickie tried he messed up as well. He asked her if she preferred Bach or Mozart to which she turned to him chewing a face full of millet, saying, "What mate! what a square, who let you in, grandad? I'm into 'punk' myself. Sling yer hook!"
His final attempt was with an ageing hen who had seen his miserable attempts at wooing the ladies. She said, chuckling to herself, "It's no good looking at me with those Mooney eyes, ducky. My candle went out years ago - never to be rekindled! You'd have to be superbird to relight them and you're not - sorry! You can give me a peck if you want, but it won't do anything to get my fire lit!"
Mickey realised he had blown it completely with all the hens and decided never to repeat the experience again. He resolved himself to bachelorhood, a state in which he accepted he would stay for the remainder of his life. He lived a couple of years more, no doubt often wondering how things might have been had he made a conquest, yet he became quite philosophical about the matter.
He became depressed again just before he died - one day he fell off his perch and was lost to the world for ever. Did he fall or did he jump, we often wonder?

Friday, 20 March 2009

Pass the plumb-line, Fred!

This made me turn my head and pull my ambulance over during my lunch break.
"Where is it?", you may be wondering.

It is Puxton Church near Congresbury on the way to Weston-Super-Mare.

It dates from 12th century and I would say it has a distinct leaning towards 'C of E'.

I thought we were told to build on rock, not on sand, and certainly not on marshland here.
Never mind, it still has stood the test of time.

Good job there's no steeple - otherwise the spire would be in the mire!

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Your one-way ticket is ready Gordon

All together now!
"Goodbye , Mr Brown, your bags will follow. Don't call us, we'll call you!" (or not)

Saturday, 14 March 2009

Mickey the Celibate Budgie

Here's a 'dead ringer' for Mickey, our pet budgerigar of the late 1950s. This little chap here is not a descendant of Mickey - his lineage died out when he fell off his perch at the grand old age of 8, being with 'no issue', as the solicitors have it. I am not sure what multiplication factor should be applied to equate a budgie's age to us humans, but Mickey must have lived to a ripe old age. Sadly we took no photographs of him so the world has been deprived of any permanent record of his existence - my Kodak Brownie box camera was quite unequal to the task of capturing him mid flight and would have resulted in an unintelligible black and white blur of something wildly energetic. Dad bought him when he was very young and Mickey took to us like a duck to water. The relationship was assisted enormously when, after a few days, Mickey became entangled in some knitting wool. Immediately Dad picked him up and placed him in the palm of his hand, a very dangerous place for a bird, and proceeded to untie him. Completely unaware of any potential danger in which his trust had led him, he realised at once he had been rescued. From that moment he allowed us to pick him up at will, put him in our pockets, tickle his tummy and stroke his feathers. He was absolutely fearless and became totally implanted on us - he thought my Dad was his Mummy, I am sure.

His maiden flight was something to behold. He looked across the room towards us all, holding out outstretched fingers and shouting words of encouragement to him. We could see he was summoning up courage for take off and to "Come on Mickey Boy!" and "You can Do it!" he launched himself into the air and flew across to us. However, he missed his chosen landing target - my hand - took a neat 90% sharp right turn and made an emergency landing on the table, just missing a bowl of custard and almost upsetting a vase of flowers, eventually skidding to a halt. Not wishing to be beaten by his initial 'pilot error' he took off again and this time proceeded to land flawlessly, celebrating with wild abandon by bobbing up and down at ninety to the dozen whilst pecking my glasses to a series of squawks and chatters, previously unheard. Obviously he was very pleased with himself, saying over and over again, "Who's a clever boy?" "Mickey! Mickey! Mickey!"

He was not lucky in matters of love - neither did he acquire the art of chatting up and, as they say, 'pulling' the birds. He must have been a handsome lad and could have charmed any bird out of the trees I am sure. However he never met a single hen in his youth. He was not unsociable - the fault was entirely ours, since we never thought of introducing him to a nice little hen bird so he could enjoy the delights of courtship and parenthood. He sometimes wondered what it would be like to fall in love but since there were no attractive hens in sight he did not complain but proceeded in his frustrations to belt the living daylights out of his plastic toy bird, squawking profusely with each violent attack. His mirror fared not much better since it too was the object of his occasional belligerent behaviour.

This enforced celibacy persuaded him to make his mark in life in a totally different way. He decided that he would have to forgo the pleasures of the physical world and instead concentrate on a life of learning, experimentation an imitation. He thought to himself, a hen bird around him constantly plus family duties would hamper any real impact he may make in this world. After all, just look what the great composers might have achieved without such domestic distractions as "Your food's on the table, come and get it or it will be thrown in the bin", or "Come and do the drying up, dear". Such interruptions might have ruined a whole concerto by killing stone dead sheer moments of genius. Without these constant unwanted interruptions Schubert may have completed his Unfinished Symphony, Mozart his Requiem Mass and Beethoven may have written a couple more symphonies at least. As for Shakespeare, well one can only imagine!

With this new found objective in life of total celibacy he became very inquisitive regarding every sound he heard - right from the start. He could have been the equivalent of a BBC sound engineer since he was fascinated with experiments in echo technology. He stuck his head down the brass central light fitting, so far on many occasions he nearly fell in, and analysing the echos he received back when he talked or chattered into it.

It was here he stayed when we played his favourite music, joining in the brass section with a mature understanding of pitch, rhythm and phrasing - he could have been a great conductor had he been human. He was not against any classical composer, yet liked some more than others. His preference was Bach because of the bouncing rhythm. He danced in perfect time to the Brandenburg Concertos - he loved them. He liked also Gilbert and Sullivan operettas, prefering the rarer Princess Ida to more popular, Mikado and Iolanthe. However grand opera was not to his taste since, more often than not, he thought principal sopranos sounded like dying ducks in thunder storms. On Sundays he bathed in his swimming pool attachment to his cage to Handel's Water Music - which he liked very much. On several ocassions he did wander into popular music, liking the Beetles, but hating the Rolling Stones. You might say he was a 'mod' and not a 'rocker'!

He was fascinated with his name and responded readily to it by flying across the room performing all manner of airborne acrobatics to rival even the red arrows. He would land on our finger, our head or spectacles whilst conversing in fluent and verbose 'budgie' language, nodding his head so violently that we often expressed concern he may injure himself.

He learned English at a prodigious rate of knots and mastered, "Mickey Boy", in a matter of days followed by "Auntie Gertie" over the next two. We told him right from the start, our English Language is rich in many descriptive adjectives and he agreed never to resort to using swear words - these were reserved for the likes of his larger cousins of sea-faring fame.

We discerned very early he was far more intellectually able than usual and he quickly tired of 'one' and 'two worders'. We could see he was highly intelligent and wanted to stretch his mind - he wanted meat not milk. We proceeded to teach him:

Gorgie Porgie pudding and pie,
Kissed the girls and made them cry.
When the boys came out to play,
Gorgie Porgie flew away.

Within three weeks he got the first two lines perfectly, after a trial run of him bobbing up and down at breakneck speed saying, "Gorgie Porgie Porgie Porgie!" With his technique corrected he perched on our hand close to our mouth and pecked us on the nose each time he wanted to learn a word.

The next two lines took over 3 years to learn and sometimes he got a few words wrong but very often he said it all perfectly and rewarded himself by clouting his new plastic bird, his forth since he had by now completely destroyed the first three.

This feat of learning in the budgie world clearly rivalled a human being reciting the whole Koran non-stop. Quite an achievement for a little bird.
One day we though we'd play a little trick on Mickey - I entered the room wearing my Uncle Ted's funny false nose and eyes. Mickey went absolutely bananas. Fearlessly he 'buzzed' the intruder and proceeded to dive bomb him just like the Stukas did in WW2 in Europe. I said, "It's me! It's me!" He took no notice and 'straffed' me again and again. I took off the offending equipment at once and placed it on the table but he made a beeline for it and proceeded to attack it with gusto so violently that eventually he threw it on the floor and stamped on it over and over again. Thinking it was dead he seized his moment for glory, circled the room three times uttering a shrieking battery of budgie obscenities, did a figure of eight, looped the loop and finished with a victory roll with such precision any spitfire pilot would gladly die to equal. Then he flew across to me and repeatedly pecked my nose whilst reprimanding me severely with, "Who's a naughty, naughty, naughty boy?" We were so impressed from that day he was promoted in the household to 'watch bird' just in case we had more unwanted intruders.
Grandma (bless her) visited us from the North of England. She was 90 and could recite in its entirety, "The Lay Of The Last Minstrel" by Sir Walter Scott. Quite a feat for an old lady but when she committed it to memory, it was laid down on very good grey matter. More recent events were much more of a problem for her to remember - in fact she was beginning to lose her mental agility for new things particularly. She enquired frequently, "What's the time?" - something many elderly people do. Mickey quickly learned that question and he and Grandma spent hours asking each other what they thought was the time. Grandma was fascinated with Mickey. She said, "That bird said, 'Auntie Gertie' and just asked me 'What's the time?' Isn't it clever? Listen it just said, 'Hello Mickey' ."

A girl cousin was staying with us also and she often wore a white coat. Grandma could not remember her name and called her 'Whitey' because of the coat. Whitey proceeded to tell Grandma that the bird was indeed very clever and came from Australia where they all talked to each other in English. "Fancy that! All talking to each other!" "Yes", said Whitey, "as soon as they hatch from their shell they say hello to each other". "Fancy that!" Wasn't she a naughty girl, that Whitey - teasing Grandma like that, indeed?

For his final year Mickey seemed to lose all desire to learn new phrases. In fact he talked less and less and seemed to be melancholy for most of the time. Was he, we wondered, regretting his decision not to embark on a meaningful relationship with a beautiful hen? Perhaps! For most of us it is the very dangerous time of thinking about a second flush of life while we can still manage to do so, but for him there was not even a first flush - poor chap!

Or could it be he was ruminating over the big question one always has in one's winter years, "Is this all there is to life or is there a new life when we depart this world?"

We never discovered just what his thoughts were because one morning we found him asleep for ever on the floor of his cage.

We had a little funeral for him and committed his body to the Earth but made a serious error in our understanding of burial procedure, where Mickie should have been buried 4ft down not 6 inches. Next day Dad informed us a cat had dug him up and eaten him. This was very sad but typical of Mickey's spirit of usefulness, for even in death he was willing to be a recycled budgie into the great Universal scheme of things. I often wonder it would be so nice if when I get to the great blue yonder if my little Mickey might land on my shoulder and say, "Hello, Eddie Boy!"

I am no great fan of Monty Python but I do like the Parrot Sketch of a larger cousin of Mickey, the Norwegian Blue. It is well worth another look. Had Mickey seen it he would certainly have laughed his beak off.

Finally, I think Mickey would have appreciated this excellent video of "Chick-fi-A" which appears on my good friend Janine's recent post. She lives across the pond and her blog site is called, Sniffles and Smiles. They modified a good song by the Beetles and it certainly made me laugh as well. Above this there is an excellent post about marriage which is well worth reading when it's time for serious thought again.

A sequel to this story can be seen on my post, Mickey, the Love-Sick Budgie.

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Anyone for Fish and Chips?

My post today is inspired by David, authorblog from his post, "Nearer, My Cod, To Thee", where he reports a fisherman finding a cellphone, still working after being inside a giant cod's belly. Remarkable! Perhaps it was a distant descendant of the same large fish which swallowed Jonah and, not liking the taste, spat him out near Nineveh. The cellphone incident occurred somewhere in the UK and there is a distinct possibility that, after the fish was boned, cleaned and cut up, these pieces of Cod which passeth all understanding may have turned up in a fish and chip shop in Bristol called The Cod Almighty. Perhaps you may think this all a huge red herring and I do not wish to be an old trout about appearing too secretive of its location, so I will tell you exactly where it is plaiced. You'll find it in Southmead Road, A4056, quite near Southmead Hospital. We pass through regularly on ambulance duty, ferrying patients 'to and fro' when in Bristol. If we are free to do so we sometimes stop for a bite to eat there and I'll tell you now that the flavour of these 'chish and fips' is absolutely fabulous - second to none!

From across the road we cannot see whether the owner is the sole proprietor or not but he's a nice chap and very friendly, and certainly would not dream of carping anyone. Neither would he ever under any circumstance contemplate telling anyone to 'sling their hooks' or 'you've had your chips!'" If you look closely inside you will see some people, mouths drooling, waiting patiently at the counter. Just round the corner inside I once saw an elderly man perched on a seat sound asleep. When I asked if there was a problem I was told, " 'eel be OK, 'e's fallen asleep after 'is dinner, 'e loves it - don't worry 'es only a kipper".

At The Cod Almighty there is no sign at all of any stench of fish, but just a mild mouth-watering aroma, guaranteed to stimulate one's salivary glands. Lovely!

The haddock and mushy peas are great as well, as are sausage rolls and pasties - super!

After all this publicity I expect next time I pass I will notice a huge queue of people eagerly waiting for their meals. If you are viewing, Mr Owner, you owe me a free cod and chips for this plug, which should boost trade enormously.

I took some cod and chips back home for my son and just look what he did with the ketchup - what a mess! He ruined the flavour completely, after all the preparation and the unique cooking oil they used as well - ruined. That's youth for you.

Many apologies for all the 'orfeful' puns. However, it was essential to use them all in order to convey my full message. I had a whale of a time doing this!

Friday, 6 March 2009

Feeling Sheepish at Cheddar

Who's afraid of the big bad wolf? Not me!

"This chap looks a bit different!", said the sheep said to himself, "He is wearing an ambulance uniform and it looks as though he has had his breakfast already! He's just walking round Cheddar reservoir here quite peacefully. So instead of running I'll listen to what he has to say because he has been standing there quietly for several minutes, making strange noises as though he wants me to come to him. Oh well, why not? He looks quite harmless. OK let's go for it! He's beginning to drive me up the wall. I'll let him get three feet away from me and no more!"

"It's OK folks! You can come out now. He must be a vegetarian."

Wednesday, 4 March 2009


Thank you very much, Retired and Crazy, for the You Make Me Smile Award, granted today.

I am truly honoured to receive this, particularly so soon after David's POTD runner up award. I have not learned to do Wordless Wednesday yet so instead I have called it Speechless Wednesday because it was such a very pleasant surprise to see this when I returned home tonight from my ambulance duties.

I have found that in general if we smile at people it usually makes their day a little brighter. However, I keep telling the young bucks I work with it has to be done carefully and tastefully, especially to ladies. If done incorrectly they run a huge risk of getting their face slapped and if they do it to a man they run the risk of being totally misinterpreted. As in life all things should be in balance.

Retired and Crazy, I will endeavor to make you laugh from now on, not just smile. Thank you again.