News and views from north Bristol's urban village

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

A Late Summer Night's Dream

African Grey Parrot is native to West-African ...Image via WikipediaSabbath last, as Mrs Trym and I were taking our weekly constitutional through Blaise Castle Estate, I was struck by the presence of several hand written posters attached to successive trees near the Henbury Road entrance:

Missing: African Grey Parrot. Answers to name of FRANK. Tel. 0117....

"Won't last long here," I mumbled to no-one in particular, while peering hopefully into the August gloom in search of the missing bird.

Imagine my surprise, therefore, when a few days later, I found myself at the market at Southmead Hospital, having been tasked with the purchase of cheap minced beef and ripe satsumas, standing next to one of the market's pet supply stalls. Beyond the rows of dog collars and biscuits, I was struck to discover a live caged bird hoping about its small enclosure.

Despite the numerous breaches in health and safety legislation represented by the sale of this feathered fowl, my primary concern was over the content of the angst-filled poster at Blaise Castle. Putting two and two together, the question hit me with the force of a train: Is this Frank?

Initial appearances could easily have lead me to a different conclusion. The bright yellow colour of the bird before me was, of course in stark contrast to the natural hue of the appropriately-named African Grey. Bird bleaching being a surprisingly widespread (though little-reported) practice, I determined to see beyond the superficial and investigate further.

Under pretence of inspecting the rubber chewing toys, I slid innocuously towards the hanging cage and, while idly fumbling a puppy tug and ball, calmly let out a growl: "Frank!" Despite a flicker of recognition from the peroxide prisoner, I knew I did not yet have enough evidence to affect a citizen's arrest of the heavily tattooed stall holder, whose scrapped-back hair and multiple items of gold jewelery were offset by her black leather waistcoat. Her rippling muscles suggested, moreover, that she might not wait quietly for the arrival of the constabulary.

Undeterred, I continued my idle inspection of rabbit harnesses and, semi-smothered by one of my chronic (though at times useful) nervous coughs, I again uttered the name of the missing African, while running my hand nonchalantly through my hair.

A stare from the adjacent Palestinian stall holder drew unwarranted attention, so I eased my position slightly to enable me to fumble with a set of jump leads set out on his motor accessory stall.

While glancing at the rows of double A batteries to my left, I was suddenly alerted to a squawking sound from the cage behind me. Turning slightly, I was shocked to see the yellow bird pecking the bars of its cage while intoning: "An-drew! An-drew!"

A brief image of Leonardo Di Caprio flashed through my mind as I awoke at home. a reminder of that evening's visit to Orpheus to see Inception. The feeling that someone had been messing with my head was not a pleasant one to wake up to.

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