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Sunday, 7 June 2009

Johnny Depp and the Escaped Parrot

When I look out of my office window on a sunny Monday morning in Stoke on Trent, the last thing I expect to see looking back at me is an African grey parrot. The odd pigeon passes by as does the occasional pied wagtail, but today we have a parrot; he’s obviously escaped from someone’s home: (that’s assuming the parrot is a he.) I call the RSPCA and am given a telephone number for a man who has reported his bird missing, 24 hours previously. Within minutes the man; dressed in rather loud shorts and tee shirt is here with his wife and son, and we learn that a) the parrot is a boy, just 4 years old, and b) his name is Joop. The problem we have is that Joop is sat in a tree and although is happy enough to whistle and call ‘Peter’, he has no intentions of coming down, which is slightly worrying as a handful of magpies are fluttering around menacingly, not happy with this exotic intruder. After a barrage of frantic name calling by it’s owner (female) including a verse or two of ‘If You’re Happy And You Know It Nod Your Head’, Joop decides to fly up a little higher in the tree: Who can blame him, the singing worries me too. Someone arrives with a ladder and the parrot decides he’s having too much fun and flies away over the top of our offices towards the wasteland recently vacated by the travellers. The search now centres on this area and I go back to the office. Approximately 4 hours pass and I look out of the window and what do I see again? Yes you guessed it, an African grey parrot, now as they’re not so common in Staffordshire, I assume it’s Joop. I call the owner, who as quickly as the parrot flew away is here once again. This time the exhausted bird is sat on a narrow roof extension beneath the office windows, after several attempts to get him to climb onto a vacuum cleaner attachment, the owner is about to give up hope, when Rachel comes to the rescue. Despite warnings from the owner that she may get bitten, she promptly climbs out of the window, shins across the roof and picks up Joop before passing him to his owner. Hands are clapped and congratulations bounce off the walls as the man strolls down the corridor with the parrot on his shoulder, looking like a portly pirate dressed in Hawaiian shorts.

The following day passes by without any animal rescue operations, I joke about seeing herds of zebra and wildebeest on the land behind the offices. Today I walk from the office up into town for an eye test, the afternoon is hot and sunny as I traipse uphill for one mile, Nancy Sinatra starts to sing, ‘These Boots Are Made For Walking’ as I begin to think, these boots are bloody killing me. The eye test goes okay and the result is they change my prescription back to how it was two years ago, telling me they really shouldn’t have altered it back in 2007, oh joy more expense.

On Wednesday I’m driving to work listening to TLC sing ‘Over Me’ when a Mini pulls in front of me, the number plate reads ‘Girl X’. At a junction in stationery traffic I seize the photo opportunity, the young girl driving the car smiles at me in her rear view mirror as my camera flashes, then the traffic lights change and she waves and speeds off into the distance. The day passes without very much really happening, I work out a schedule of activities for the summer school in July, and we get posters designed and printed for the final performance. Gary, from the printers next door brings us an enormous poster featuring Johnny Depp, and asks if we’d like it. The poster is put above the office door and takes up the complete wall, we now work with Captain Jack Sparrow looking menacingly down upon us. The parrot owners pop in with chocolates and a thank you card from Joop. Wednesday evening is spent in the garden, thinning out radishes and removing a large lupin that’s past its best. Thursday is a pain in the ass in the office as BT have accidentally disconnected our broadband, and despite a plethora of calls can’t seem to understand why they’ve done it and when questioned about it being reinstated they don’t seem to have a clue. Today marks the arrival of the tenth edition of the channel four show Big Brother, I decide to watch, just to see who they have chosen to take part this year. I’m not really a fan of the show, and don’t follow it. The contestants, or rather the fame hungry exhibitionists are quite dull I find, there must be more interesting people in the UK, this said I suppose more interesting people wouldn’t be interested in taking part. The week ends with me being alone in the office, I continue working on the summer school agenda, Barbra Streisand finishes singing ‘My Honey’s Loving Arms, from her first album, to be replaced by Siouxsie and the Banshees singing their cover of the Beatles song ‘Helter Skelter’. We still have no broadband and many more calls to BT still haven’t resolved the issue, I am talking to BT when I hear a whining sound, I ignore it and continue to talk to their technical department when I look up and notice a great column of smoke billowing angrily past the window. I joke with the technician that the building is on fire; I look up and assume it’s the derelict building opposite that’s burning. I mutter something about kids starting fires for fun and then get back to trying to get our internet connections up and running again. After a while the BT technician rings off promising to call back as soon as she can figure out the next move. Once my attention is diverted from the telephone, I realise the whining sound is our building’s fire alarm. I lock up and casually stroll to join the crowd of office workers outside the gates. I turns out that the fire is between the two buildings and has been quite fierce and the fire fighters are having a problem dousing it. Turns out everyone else had been at the evacuation point for over an hour before I joined them. The fire finally extinguished we return to our respective offices, I collect the iPod and set off for home with Depeche Mode playing ‘Jezebel’ from their new and superb album, ‘Sounds Of The Universe’.

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