In lieu of today’s blog I enclose a whimsical short story written for part of writing workshop I attended today. Hopefully it’ll scratch that literary itch:-
“For the love of god, can you please turn that bloody central heating down, GG!”
An admonishment delivered from inside his battered old bird cage by outspoken parrot Percy. The target of this indignation his owner, long-suffering Gladys Gladstone, who chose to ignore her bird’s rudeness.
The old lady was sat adjacent to her parakeet’s cage in a threadbare green velour armchair in the terraced home’s lounge. Like Gladys and the bird cage, the seat had seen better days; however, remained comfortable enough, in a lumpy sort of way, to remain part of the family.
Truth be told most of GG’s house needed TLC. Mucky torn net curtains, which hung like dark rain clouds in every room, were holier than kitchen cullenders. Time not kind either to decades old woodchip wallpaper which adorned most chambers. The torn paper badly in need of replacement.
With GG fixated on a daytime TV show, Percy flew through open door, landing on a chair arm next to a menu from a local takeaway. Upon catching Mrs G’s gaze, he proceeded to pick up the menu, dramatically fanning himself with the leaflet, reminding his owner he was still overheating.
With GG ignoring his hint, the chromatically plumaged bird tetchily berated “Energy prices are at an all-time high and you have the heating on… The thermometer also showing mild temperatures outside… Save yourself money, turn it off, allowing me to bloody cool down in the process.”
Gladys, irked by the curmudgeonly parakeet’s rudeness, decided to hit back on this occasion. The old lady pointing out “You’re from temperate climes, PP; you shouldn’t be fazed by a bit of warmth.”
Footnote – PP was the nickname Gladys held for the outspoken parakeet. He assumed they were an acronym of Percy Parrot; not realising Mrs G utilised them to signify he was a Pretentious Pillock.
“I was born in Huddersfield, England… That is hardly tropical, is it?!” Percy chuntered with trademark irk.
Adding “It is a damp cool West Yorkshire town which gave us Harold Wilson, Roy Castle and that lass who played Doctor Who… Last time I visited it was bereft of tropical rainforest… Although, admittedly, there was plenty of rain!”
Although their relationship was capricious and her remaining tight lipped during PP’s protestations at excessive house warmth, Mrs G knew her pet had a valid point when raising concerns about unnecessary home energy usage.
She realised balancing energy price increases, in conjunction with wintertime’s arrival, made decisions on heating her home a fine balancing act. A conundrum exacerbated by the septuagenarian’s ever thinning blood which made cooler temperatures even more gelid.
Despite frequent friction between the duo and her apparent push back at his request and hints to turn the central heating down, Gladys ordinarily adhered to PP’s requests … Well, apart from the parrot’s mischievous suggestion “You should run this race next year.” while they watched televised footage of the London Marathon the previous weekend.
Although tongue-in-cheek, the parrot concluded if GG started training to run the London Marathon it would at least warm the old lady up. Subsequently, negating the need to light the boiler. The move not only saving money on energy bills, but also raising her fitness levels in the process.
Footnote – Incidentally, if you are reading this Mrs Gladstone, please seek medical advice before embarking on any fitness programme… Or, coming to think of it, lowering the settings of your central heating thermostat.
Despite ordinarily acquiescing to the bird’s advice, Gladys was reticent to follow PP’s central heating guidance… In fact, she was so opposed to the idea, she argued “I would rather buy myself a pair of sneakers and jog 26 miles around our capital than isolate our central heating system.”
Although the duo was involved in numerous spats, the septuagenarian widow was fully aware of the value of Percy’s companionship. In the absence of a large circle of friends, she felt blessed her pet possessed the power of speech. His vocal savvy allowing her to have a natter when bereft of human companionship.
Mrs G’s only real issue with the bird was the parakeets habitual use of cursing. Perc picking up his impressive catalogue of cuss words from the elderly lady’s late husband Reg. A hard-drinking fella so adept at blaspheming he was crowned Pontefract’s Profanity King in 2018.
Reg’s schooling of Percy in the art of inappropriate banter caused huge rows with his long-suffering spouse. She was particularly enraged by the parrot continually referring to her as a “Stupid old cow!” and Reginald as “Old coffin dodger”, or “Addled old p**head!”
Gladys and Reg were married for 52 years before his tragic death in 2020 when the patriarch accidentally tripped over a metal swear box hidden among household clutter at the top of the stairwell. The subsequent tumble downstairs to the house’s vestibule fatally breaking his neck.
Witnessing this episode unfold leading to the parrot, whilst looking down on Reginald’s deceased body, commenting “Poor old Reg… He lived by the f***ing swear box and died by the f***ing swear box!”
Like most funerals, Reg’s was a sombre emotive affair. With GG being too distraught to speak, Percy was asked to deliver the two-page eulogy she had penned for her husband of over five decades.
As the parrot could not read, it was an ill though out request by the old woman. One leading to the foul-mouthed bird riffing a curse laden farewell to the man who he highlighted was no longer dodging that coffin.
Still suffering with the blazing heat emanating from Mrs G’s radiators, Percy once again inquired “Are you going to turn that bloody central heating down, GG!”
Tired of the parakeets endless whining about being too warm, Gladys finally acceded to her high maintenance pet’s request. Muttering “Selfish bloody bird!” under her breath while turning the aged heating system off at the thermostat.
An hour or two later, with Percy now shivering under a parrot sized scarf and bobble hat, he popped his head out of his cage to inform the seated GG “Oi…. For the love of God will you turn that bloody heating back on!… I am freezing my balls off here!”
Gladys dutifully rose from her armchair and headed towards the hallway in situ thermostat.
After five to ten minutes of faffing around with the thermostat, along with a failed reset of the boiler power switch, it was clear the system was not going to fire up without an engineer’s assistance.
“If you’d kept your beak shut, and I’d have not turned this off in the first place, we wouldn’t have this problem!” Gladys chuntered at a sheepish looking parrot whilst retrieving her phone, which was charging in the kitchen.
After three telephone calls to various gas engineers, she agitatedly threw her phone onto her sofa and headed towards the hall to get her anorak from the coat rack. Grumbling, as she walked, “The earliest engineer I can get to attend is 9am tomorrow morning!”
As she headed out of the front door, following Percy’s inquiry where she was going, she turned to respond “Sports Direct for some new sneakers… I am off for a jog to warm myself up!”