As fashion statements go, it could hardly be bettered.
I mean, how many women have you seen wearing a real, live bird in
their hair while out shopping? No, me neither. But there she was at the counter in the Fabric Shop (Mr B’s unfavourite emporium because it is so difficult to wrestle me away from its many delights once I have set foot inside) causing me to stop in my
tracks and nearly drop all the balls of green wool I was carefully carrying to the check out.
I didn’t recognise the species of bird, it looked vaguely like
a budgerigar but then again it didn’t, not exactly - so, curious as ever, I was bold enough to ask. It turned out to be a green cheeked conure which to be honest I’d never heard of. Its owner told me that the green cheeked conure is a native
of South America and is a member of the parrot family. She didn’t explain what I really wanted to know, which was why she was wearing it on her head and I wasn’t quite brave enough to query her choice of headgear.
“What do you think its name is?” a mother asked her small daughter, who was staring, fascinated, at the spectacle before her. “Bird!” responded the littl’un, definitely.
I was reminded of my (Not So Very Little) Welsh Boys who, at the same age, invariably gave the most obvious names to their toys. As in, Floppy for a toy rabbit because it was, well, floppy. You get my drift, I’m sure. Anyway, while Bird would have been
a totally appropriate name for the green-cheeked conure, it turned out that its name was actually Nix. Or it might have been Nicks. Take your pick.
While we have
never, as a family, owned anything as exotic as a green-cheeked conure, we did once have a much-loved budgerigar who went by the name of Jody. Despite the fact that my hair in those far off days did quite often resemble a bird’s nest, Jody never rested
atop my head that I can remember. He much preferred, when released from his cage, to fly straight up to the book shelves where he invariably perched on Mr B’s collection of Wisden’s Cricket Almanacs, working
his way from volume to volume, assiduously pecking away at the dust jackets with her sharp beak, oblivious to (or possibly simply ignoring) Mr B’s frenzied protests from below.
Among the toys in his bird cage was a small plastic budgerigar on a spring whom Jody clearly imagined was real. He would chat away incessantly to this companion, never seeming to notice that the Yellow Plastic One was so very unresponsive.
I still feel guilty about the time I borrowed the plastic budgie for a while. The Middle of the Darling Daughters had been entered for a ballet exam and needed a bird cage for her set dance. Mr B set to with a wire coat hanger and pliers and fashioned a pretty
reasonable cage. All it needed, I said, congratulating him on his endeavours, was a bird inside. Mr B, considering his job done, said he would leave that up to me. You can imagine the rest. Jody squawked ferociously as I removed his playmate and I don’t
think he ever quite forgave me, even though I did return it to the cage once it had served its purpose. I can’t recall how well the Middle of the Darling Daughters fared in her ballet exam, but never let it be said that her father and I didn’t
rally round to support her. Even our pet budgie did her bit.
When Jody went to meet his Maker, we buried him in a shoe box with the plastic budgie tucked in beside
him. Inseparable even in death. It was one of the saddest days in my children’s lives, their first experience of a death in the family.
can live for up to twenty-five years. Maybe we should have invested in one of them instead? I could have gone shopping wearing him on my head.
But no, there was
only ever one Jody. We didn’t buy another bird. He may not have been a fashion statement but he was, quite simply, irreplaceable.