Bangkok Phil

The Parrot's Revenge

How one feathered friend can ruin your life

Our home is being terrorized by a parrot. No, really. We were awakened one sunny morning in August by an ear-piercing squawk, and life hasn't been quite the same since.

I must confess that I knew very little about parrots. I had an inkling they came from tropical countries but I mostly thought they were put on earth to offer companionship to lonely old age pensioners. My grandmother kept a parrot for years. It rocked gently on its perch. It looked at itself in a small plastic toy mirror. Sometimes it would sharpen its beak on a piece of cuttlefish. And that's how it passed the time save for occasionally being told what a pretty boy it was. Parrots in a cage went hand-in-hand with ticking grandfather clocks, boxes of snuff, tea in best china cups and a plate of assorted biscuits all four years past their expiry date.

At first it was fun. The bird adopted our modest two-storey house as his new home and would entertain us by dancing on the kitchen window sill before retiring to bed in the alcove of the upstairs bathroom window. The wife and I googled ‘parrots' on the internet and found out that our new resident was indeed a moustached parakeet, recognizable by its green feathers and gorgeous pink breast but more notable for its love of making noise......lots of noise. As a piercing shrill suddenly rang out from somewhere near the front porch, the wife and I looked anxiously at each other. Little did we know of the magical times that lay ahead.

It's well documented that parrots have a destructive streak, and after an initial week of generally acceptable behavior, our newly-acquired pet decided to flex its destructive muscle - or whatever parrots flex. He started by pecking a coating of white paint from a wall-mounted air-conditioning pipe. That damage I could live with to be honest. It didn't detract from the value of the house a great deal and any future house-buyers could be fobbed off by being told it was weather damage. What came next hurt a great deal more as the parrot turned its attention to the modest clothes-drying area we've erected at the side of the house. A few days after the destruction of the air-conditioning pipe, I hand-washed possibly my two favorite shirts and hung them out to dry in the afternoon sun. I loved those shirts. They were two genuine Cuban Cubavera shirts that I'd successfully bid for and won in an E-bay auction. I wore those shirts so much that they knew their way into Bangkok on their own. The following morning when I went outside to check if the items were dry, I froze in horror as it dawned on me that the shoulders of each garment had been pecked to ribbons in what crime scene investigators would probably describe as ‘a frenzied attack'. I tore the shirts from their pegs and threw them in the garbage bin. Wiping a tear from my eye, I fixed the sky with a steely gaze - "this time it was war"

But parrots aren't like dogs for example. You can catch dogs in the middle of doing something wrong, give them a sharp smack on the nose, shout "bad boy!" and watch them flee under the nearest chair. Parrots are something altogether different. Our green and pink moustached parakeet had realized that attacking laundry was the most fun he'd ever had. He'd got a taste for it now. Next on the agenda were my wife's knickers. The parrot knew I couldn't stand guard over the washing line forever and the moment I disappeared into the house to watch a little TV, he silently went about his business. Fast forward an hour or two and my wife's underwear is in shreds. I defy any man not to get a little upset over something playfully biting chunks out of his wife's panties the moment his back's turned.

The next day as I sat on the living room sofa, I heard an incredibly loud twanging noise from upstairs. It was like the sound of someone plucking an out-of-tune guitar. Either a musician had moved into the spare bedroom or the parrot was up to more shenanigans; either way the noise merited further investigation. The parrot had squeezed its way through the bathroom window pane and was now biting huge holes in the mosquito netting. I flapped my arms frantically, which was a stupid thing to do because I had him cornered and could've just wrung its neck, and the bird forced itself back between the window pane and frame and flew off. As it flew away, it let out a volley of squawks. I have little doubt it was the parrot equivalent of ‘fuck you'

That night, there was a meeting of the Samut Prakarn Society for the Abolition of Moustached Parakeets'. There were admittedly only two of us present and there was just one item on the agenda - 1) what the f*** are we going to do?
The parrot was laughing at me. He'd now got into the habit of landing on the kitchen window sill as I was preparing dinner. I'd put down the kitchen knife, run out of the back door and flick him with a towel. But every time he was too quick and he'd flutter as far as the next door neighbor's washing line. And from such a safe distance away, he could smirk at me and waggle the ends of both wings as if to say "come on then. Let's have it"

Throughout this parrot ordeal, there's always been one underlying problem and I feel it worth a mention. I have always considered myself an animal lover but when it comes to being a lover of all creatures great and small, my wife has no equals. On the rare occasion a cockroach has scurried across the kitchen floor, my wife will usher it out of the back door and send it on its way with a flask and sandwiches. I'll generally batter it with the bottom of the nearest shoe. So you can see what I was up against.

Regardless of our love for animals, something had to be done and fast. My master plan was to trap the bird in a cage - or something similar like an old sock. Then drive it out to Chonburi, or somewhere even further afield, and release it into the wild. I honestly thought the wife would go for that idea but she looked horrified at the mere mention of it. She started talking about ‘loneliness' and the only reason the parrot had taken to us was because he had no family. It takes more than walking around in holey knickers to turn my wife against animals. This was worse than I thought. The parrot had got her under its spell. Both of them were now against me. On one side I'd got the incessant squawking, the unbearable noise while I was trying to watch the football on TV. On the other side I had the parrot.

As luck would have it, while surfing the web my wife happened upon a website maintained by a group of Thai parrot enthusiasts. Further investigation uncovered the fact that Nonthaburi, on the outskirts of Bangkok, has its own little piece of parrot heaven - an aviary for tropical birds where moustached parakeets and the like can fly around all day long shrieking and shitting to their heart's content. Now isn't that far more agreeable than the great aviary in the sky where I wanted to send our bird to?

The truth is that the Nonthaburi plan was never executed. We still can't catch the damn bird. We've spent almost 2,000 baht on a beautiful wooden birdcage and it stands forlorn and empty on the front porch while the parrot flies around the house, pausing to perch on a tree branch and puff out its chest in defiance.

Occasionally it will tilt its head to one side as if it's making a decision. Do I fancy a spot of mosquito net twanging or shall I hound that stupid guy while he makes dinner. Who knows, with a bit of luck he might even buy some more shirts off E-bay. It's great being a parrot!


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