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Animal Stories: Priscilla The Parrot

Graham Whitcroft tells a cautionary tale involving Priscilla, a conceited parrot.

Hannah had entered her pet parrott called Priscilla in the ‘Top Pet’ competition at the August carnival. Priscilla had plumage of green, blue and red with purple feathers on the crown of her head; this gave the impression she was wearing a hat.

“I shall win of course” said Priscilla.

“How do you know?” asked Hannah.

“Because I am beautiful. I can’t think of a more colourful bird in the area – can you Hannah?”

“Well, no’ she answered, ‘but I’ve seen some very colourful birds – kingfishers, robins, and woodpeckers”.

“Oh, I know’ said Priscilla preening herself, ‘but they are wild birds and they don’t count”.

On the day of the competition people made their way to the marquee carrying cages containing other parrots, baskets with frightened, scowling cats, shoe boxes that could have contained a hamster or a guinea pig or a mouse and glass bowls with goldfish. There were also dogs – lots of them.

Having left her Mum and Dad in the audience section of the marquee, Hannah made her way, with Priscilla perched on her shoulder, to the judging area. A man in a white coat greeted them, checked Hannah’s name, admired Priscilla and directed them to table number nine.

“Oh, what a lovely parrot” said the lady at table ten, and proceeded to ask all sorts of questions – “How long have you had her?” “Where did you buy her?” Hannah answered her politely but Priscilla took a real objection to the question, “And is she clean?”

“What!” squawked Priscilla, “Is she clean? Of course I’m clean. Don’t you know that parrots wash themselves daily, carefully preening every feather. How dare you ask, ‘Is she clean?’ “.

Priscilla turned her back on the lady and looked around her. She wasn’t pleased with what she observed. She saw a goldfish that had jumped out of its water and was now gasping at the base of its bowl; a tortoise that simply refused to emerge from its shell and a very badly behaved dog called Sam. He had escaped from his young owner, Jack, and ran amok. He went under a table and almost overturned it; he found a baby in a push chair, licked its face and made it cry; found a piece of pork pie left over from a picnic and, as though desperately hungry gobbled it up; then he ran between the legs of a lady judge and almost sent her flying! “Disgusting” said Priscilla, “why can’t these people keep their animals under control?” That wasn’t the worst of it! A cat had escaped and Sam gave chase - over the beer crates, through the flower arrangement and out into the field. Jack retrieved Sam as he sat panting beneath a flag-pole, staring at the cat sitting at the top.

“Well’ thought Priscilla looking down her beak, ‘there’s no competition, I’ve won”. It looked as if she was absolutely right.

Some time passed before the judges arrived. “My, my’ said one judge, ‘what a beautiful parrot we have here! How old is he?”

“He?’ screamed Priscilla, ‘I’m no he I’m Priscilla and I’m female”.

The embarrassed judge apologised. “Of course! And what beautiful colours – they are genuine feathers aren’t they?”

Before Hannah could answer, Priscilla, almost beside herself with anger, said indignantly, “Real? Of course they are real, grown and cared for very carefully by myself. How dare you! Of course they are real”.

Priscilla felt two fingers holding her beak together. They were Hannah’s fingers and there they remained while she answered the rest of the questions “How old is she?” “How long have you owned her?” “What does she eat? Priscilla’s eyes were almost popping out of her head with frustration and anger.

All three judges passed on to the next table. They didn’t seem to find the rat very interesting. When they came to the goldfish, now replaced in its bowl, they couldn’t work out why it was floating on top of the water. “Can it do any other tricks?” asked one judge. When they came to Sam, he proceeded to lick the hands of the judges. “What a delightful dog!” they said before they went to table thirteen.

The big moment came. The Lord Mayor approached the microphone, tapped it and said, “Testing, testing, can you hear me?”

Assured that they could, he cleared his throat and began to make the announcement everyone was waiting for.

“After careful consideration” said the mayor, “the judges have decided to give the first prize to……” There was a long pause, keeping everyone on the edge of their seats. He continued. “….the first prize goes to’ (another pause) ‘Sam, the dog”.

Priscilla, fluttered her wings wildly then fell off Hannah’s shoulder and spluttered, “I’m flabbergasted, shocked to the quills of my feathers. Are they blind or are they mad? Can’t they see that I am the most beautiful creature in this marquee? Come on Hannah, let’s go”.

When Hannah got to the entrance of the marquee with Priscilla flapping on her shoulder, Hannah’s Mum said, “Did you see Jack’s face? He was so proud of Sam! What a lovely choice the judges have made!”

Priscilla couldn’t believe her ears and dissolved into floods of tears. She became inconsolable when Hannah said “I’m so pleased for him Mum”.

They walked home, chatting away, but Priscilla didn’t say a word. However, as she passed the church she saw a notice outside that read, “…count others better than yourselves”.

“Uh!” said Priscilla in disgust.


Philippians 2: 3


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