Anyway, life goes on and my male staff is still going out running most days, and most days he gets attacked by something. Certain birds are nesting at the moment, in particular magpies and masked lapwings and some of them get quite ratty if, in their estimation you get too close to their nest. Australian magpies can be particularly disagreeable, though they are not magpies at all really - not in the European sense at least. They're a different bird altogether; they have a heavier build, more like a small pied crow really and they have a very powerful stabbing beak with which they pull worms and grubs kicking and screaming from the earth. One Aboriginal word for magpie is parwan. Now I have no idea of the meaning of the word parwan but I imagine it means something like "Psychopathic devil bird".
Australian magpie. "You looking at me?"
Some Australian magpies are so territorial in August and September that local councils put out signs
"BEWARE! SWOOPING MAGPIES". It's usually the male bird who does the swooping. Pumped up on testosterone they dive from the trees squawking like demons on unsuspecting passers by - kids riding their bikes to school, postmen, joggers and best of all my male staff. The thing is they don't just swoop, they also stab with that beak of theirs. People have been known to lose the sight of one eye in such attacks. My male staff once received a pierced ear from one of the dive bombers and turned up back at home with a blood stained running shirt. My female staff, rather optimistically thought he'd been shot.
My male staff has tried reasoning with them. He stops running and stands with his hands on his head to protect himself while the angry bird swoops and dives and squawks inches from his face.
"Look," he says as calmly as possible. "I'm just passing through. You see me here nearly every day and have I ever stopped to harass you?" He pauses as if waiting for the bird to answer. "No, I haven't have I. Look, the last thing I want to do is climb that bloody great tree - without a ladder mind - and steal your eggs or eat your babies. It's not going to happen, so how about you and I come to an amicable agreement. I promise to leave your nest alone if you swear not to try to peck my eyes out every time I run past your tree." The magpie's answer to this was to bomb him with a large semi-liquid poo - about half a litre of it. "I'll take that as a no then shall I?" said my male staff. This time when he got home my female staff thought that someone had emptied a large pot of passion fruit yoghurt (bush yoghurt?) over his head.
And yet my staff have their own friendly family of magpies - Mary, Manfred and baby Matthew who drop in most mornings while my staff are having their breakfast on the deck. They strut about happily and in a very friendly manner, (The magpies I mean, not my staff.) sharing my staff's meal, being hand fed and generally acting all cute and innocent. Now and again, before I crossed the Rainbow Bridge I would join my staff for breakfast on the deck. On such occasions I'd sit on my female staff's lap having registered my displeasure at being dragged from my warm bed at some ungodly hour by rumbling severely at her. Our family of magpies would be there toddling around chortling happily as magpies do, hoovering up crumbs and depositing blobs of bush yoghurt on the deck. I never did trust them though, particularly Mary. She had a look in her beady little amber eye that said. "If you leave that fat furry thing unguarded for just ten seconds I'm going to find out what it tastes like." Happily she never got the chance.
We all miss Uncal Billy very much, except for his snoring and his chooing his cage bars in the morning because his staff weren't kwik enuff with his breckfast. He made a hell of a racket and as a teenager I need my beooty sleep. So now it's just me and Tom and Alfie. They live in wun cage and I live in another on my own, but the cages are next to each other so we can tork.
I don't think Uncal Billy ever reely introjuiced yoo to Tom and Alfie so I will do that now.
This is Tom. Uncal Billy always sed that he thinks Tom's Daddy must have been a pork-you-pine whatever that is. He's only abowt six months old but he's alreddy bigger than me.
Alfie is the oldest piggy in the howse now. He's abowt fifteen months old. He says when I'm wun, a wheek from today he'll take me klubbing. I'm like dude I don't want to go klubbing, I hate vylence of any sort and he like rolls his red eyes and karries on eating his lettiss.