Paolo is an old budgie now. He was with my staff long before Badger and I were even a strange tingling feeling in our father's testostricles. Health wise he's had his ups and downs, but he's outlived three other budgies. His first companion - Tikki arrived at the same time as Paolo and just a couple of weeks later was found in the bottom of their cage with his legs in the air. My staff then found him a new friend - Wiggles. Wiggles survived until he was about six years old, then his tummy grew bloated and despite treatment from the vet he went to the Rainbow Bridge while my male staff held him in his hand. It would have been most upsetting - especially for poor Wiggles. Now, as regular readers will know, Paolo's latest cage-mate Biggles has also gone to the Rainbow Bridge. He went while he was at the vet's surgery, taken by something nasty called coccidiosis. That same illness almost took Paolo too, yet he survived and is as chirpy as ever, if a little sleepy. When he's tired he lays down on his perch and tucks his head under his wing, twitching now and again as he dreams of everlasting millet sprays. He seems happy enough in his retirement though. Badger and I keep an eye on him from across the room. We're under instructions to alert my staff if he looks unwell.
Yesterday my staff and and my female staff's mum took Badger and I to the old folks home to see my female staff's dad. It was her mum and dad's fifty seventh wedding anniversary, and so my staff took flowers. Female staff's dad likes bright flowers. Unfortunately so do Badger and I and they were left on the backseat of the car, well within our reach. Very tasty there were too, the white roses were particularly good once you learned to spit out the thorns. Anyway my female staff's dad was very moved by the nice bunch of stems which she presented him with, mind you, the stems could have been longer too because we'd had a bit of a chew on them too. My female staff's mum had bought some very nice cakes and we all settled down in the communal lounge where her dad was cosily settled with some of the other residents watching a DVD of Andre Rieu's concert at New York's Radio City on an enormous TV screen. Female staff's dad loves Andre Rieu so we all sat with him and watched while my male staff ate all the cake and Badger and I polished off what little remained of the flower stems.
My female staff's dad who suffers from both an incurable form of bone cancer and the early stages of Alzheimer's disease pointed at the screen. He'd obviously watched this DVD before because he said.
"See that woman in the front row of the orchestra? The one in blue with the bagpipes." We looked. Sure enough there was a woman with bagpipes in the front row. He continued. "She really is very good. I expect she'll play soon." Sure enough a few minutes later the woman stood and gave the most moving rendition of "Amazing Grace" a guinea pig could wish to hear. Badger had tears in his eyes, though admittedly that may have been because I'd just mounted him. We all looked at my female staff's dad who was still staring at the screen as the soloist received a standing ovation from the audience.
"Wow!" Said my female staff. "That really was good. You were right Dad." He nodded, and on the big screen the orchestra began playing the next number.
"See that woman in blue with the bagpipes in the front row?" Said my female staff's dad. "She's really good. She'll probably get up and play soon." My female staff's mum just looked sad.
"Yes I'm sure she will." She said. The music played on, all but drowning out the soft snores of the other residents, our happy munching of the flower stems and my male staff's occasional contented burp.
Later that day my male staff told my female staff that she has his permission to suffocate him with a pillow if he is ever diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. She promised to oblige. In fact she said she'd be quite happy to do it before the diagnosis. "In fact," she said. "I'll do it now if you like, but would you mind sitting in the garbage bin while I do it? It would make the whole disposal process much easier." I thought that was uncalled for.
So, at last after four coronial inquests it is now official that a dingo took Azaria Chamberlain from the tent at Ayers Rock thirty two years ago. My male staff has been storming about the house yelling "How is it possible that it has taken so long?" He reckons any reasonable person knew that that is what happened the day after the incident. He says it's just a shame that the Keystone Cops in the Northern Territory can't be described as reasonable. Well, I don't know anything about that, but now I'm bracing for an increased incidence of cruelty to dogs. Maybe it's just me, but Australia seems to have more than it's fair share of moronic cowards in it's human population. After Steve Irwin's death there were incidents of people torturing and mutilating stingrays. Now people are doing the same to flying fox bats because they are known to spread the lethal Hendra virus to horses, who then pass it on to humans. Jeez! I hope nobody ever discovers that guinea pigs sometimes escape from their cages at night to rip out the throats of people accused of animal cruelty.
I wondered why Billy sometimes comes home just before dawn with blood all over his feet