Sunday, 5 August 2012

Sparrows and Parrots

My husband saw a parrot today.

So what, I hear you say. Perhaps you're thinking he visited an old aunt with a caged bird or wandered around a pet shop or a zoo. No. He was working in London and spotted it in a tree.

So what, I hear you mutter. The odd parrot escapes now and then. No big deal.

Well I have a little tale to tell, which may help you to understand why my husband was so anxious to see it and I was perturbed to hear that he had.

This experience left such an impression on me that I wrote a sub-plot for my first novel, Lies and Linguine, around the theme. My husband Paul, hadn't been feeling well for weeks and so decided to make an appointment with his doctor. Without any specific symptoms to speak of, the doctor told Paul that there were more sparrows in the sky than parrots. This flippant remark obviously meant that Paul probably wasn't suffering with anything exotic, and to get on with his life. Which he did!

About a fortnight after hearing his doctor make this remark, Paul shouted for me to hurry into the kitchen. He was pointing at something sitting on our garden fence.

An exotic parrot!

We live in Nottingham, not exactly a tropical rain forest! It'd obviously escaped from its cage, but nonetheless, it made the goose bumps tingle. For the next few weeks, Paul hadn't felt any better. It came to a head one cold, dark November morning, before anyone was awake. A strange, terrifying noise woke me from a deep sleep. It sounded like an animal in pain. NEXT TO ME!

I switched on the bed-side lamp to see my husband, unconscious on the bed. He was having a grand mal seizure. His face was grey, his lips were blue and a trickle of blood dribbled from his mouth from where he'd bitten his tongue. The children came running in to the bedroom because of the loud noise their daddy was making. After calming three terrified crying children and calling for an ambulance, things happened quickly. Paul was assessed and allowed home, with an appointment to go to radiology for a brain scan.

Arriving in radiology at hospital, we were once again shocked into silence, on seeing a brightly coloured poster behind the receptionist's desk. A heading proudly boasted, 'Parrots of the World.' Suddenly there seemed to be a lot more parrots than sparrows in our lives.

Paul was diagnosed with a brain tumour, which was miraculously operated on successfully. Paul's recovery and absence from his company, led to the folding of his own design agency. It also instigated a house move, as Paul wasn't allowed to drive. But, ten years on, Paul is well and we look back on that episode in our lives, as a lesson learnt.

Life is short. Make the most of it. Don't get hung up on trivial arguments or irritations.
You don't know what's round the corner.

Except he's just seen another damned parrot!


  1. Wow!
    I saw the parrot reference on your Twitter page and wondered what it was all about.
    It's set me thinking about what trivial things usually bother me that I should just ignore.

  2. An amazing story Ange - I know from staying with friends in SE London that parrots are almost as common as sparrows. So maybe parrots aren't what they once were. Let's hope not

  3. Hi Keith. It does sometimes help to stop and think about what's important. I hope you're well and your words are flowing! : )

    Hi Avril. That's very reassuring to know. Thanks for mentioning it, as you don't imagine there'd be parrots flying around London. It did stop me in my tracks when Paul told me, and brought all those awful memories flooding back. Lovely to hear from you. xx

  4. Avril is right: there is a colony of green parrots (can't remember the name) living in London now - thriving in fact.
    My mum has a thing about the number 8: her mum died in the 8th month, her brother-in-law on the 18th of a month, her husband on the 28th. She sees these all as portents of doom and is now hyper-supersticious of the number 8. But what she forgets is that three times a month for 11 months of the year and for the entire month of October, there are '8s' in the date and absolutely nothing bad happens to her.
    We are humans and look for patterns, interpreting new events through the glasses of our past experiences. You probably saw parrots many, many times and until the horribly traumatic illness of your husband, payed no attention. I say this not to ridicule anything you said, only to reassure you that coincidences are just that: coincidences.
    I am so glad your husband is well now and I totally agree with you: life is short.
    Be well and be happy,
    Nettie xxx

  5. Thank you lovely Nettie. It is very reassuring to know this and you're right, we do tend to look for patterns in life. For the majority of the time they are comforting rituals, but when times are tough we link them with negative thoughts. I truly believe that Paul's illness is history and he just happened to see one of many London parrots!
    You be well and happy too. Ange xx

  6. There is also a colony of parrots living in Brooklyn, Ny, and for many years!
    That aside, I'm glad your husband is well! What a nightmarish experience that must have been. And hear me, Ange, never disbelieve him again when he says he's seen a parrot.

  7. Wow, that story gave me chills. What a lesson in getting a second opinion if you feel like something is wrong inside your body. Hope this parrot is bringing good news!

  8. Oh I believed him Mariam - it just made my blood run cold! Thank you for popping by and visiting my blog. xx

    Thank you Jocelyn and so do I! xx