Books Magazine

The Wild Side - Try It but Come Home Safely.

By Ashleylister @ashleylister
I am listening to Lou Reed's lyrics with born again hearing.  I can honestly say that I never realised that it was all about drugs and prostitution. And they refer to black American women as 'the coloured girls.' I have to say that it all sounds really outdated now.  But back then...
Last week I went to the movies. This is Academy Award season - the Baftas having already been presented, Hollywood is bracing itself for big night.  Over the last few years, much has been said in the press about the lack of awards for black actors, film-makers and films about the lives of black people.  Strange really when there was a black President in The White House. 
The film that I went to see, 'Hidden Figures' focusses on the lives of three Afro-American women working at NASA during the early part of what we call The Space Race. The Russians made the first manned space flight, returning Yuri Gagarin to earth as a Soviet hero, much to the consternation of Kennedy's administration.  The impending struggle to get John Glenn safely up and down was a numbers game. The story of black/white segregation, the failure of the USA to acknowledge talent if the color of someone's skin was different and the fight for equal rights by determined black, female, mathematicians began right there at NASA headquarters, Langley.
The film is incredibly moving, to women empowering and it is also true. Why it has not been nominated for an Oscar is beyond me. Perhaps only films that highlight the negative side of being black and American are Oscar worthy.  Personally I believe that a black, heroin addict mother is just the same as a white, heroin addict mother and I would rather not watch a movie about it. Seeing the positivity of those who strove to be more than previous generations had ever believed they could be, I have little sympathy with those who give up, hit the bottle, take drugs or stop fighting for their children.  Shame on them.
Anyway, back to the wild side. I like being out in the countryside, love walking up hill and down dale, but only if I have the right footwear with me.  I spent a week in Kefalonia with huge blisters after walking down a steep hill on the first night, wearing shoes that rubbed my toes. Oh the price of bad planning.  I did still manage a few long walks but with sore feet they were not as far as I would have liked to go.  Not much wildlife over there and I really enjoy a bit of bird watching, red-squirrel spotting, deer stalking etc. When we went to South Africa, I was lucky enough to see hippos, giraffe, wild dogs and a pair of young twin Cheetahs. They appeared just at the side of the road as we drove through the Pilansberg National Park.  It was wonderful to see them in their natural habitat and brought home how sad it is that we only usually see wildlife that is contained.
I am always sad to see healthy birds of prey used as pets. I know that they were used for hunting but to import a magnificent Harris Hawk to the UK as a pet is does not seem natural to me. Allowing the import of Northern European eagle owls is a complete travesty. They are very aggressive, kill our native birds and have even attacked people. When my kids were young we spent time at Muncaster Castle, where the World Owl Trust has its headquarters. Most of the owls that they house have been injured or imported and abandoned. The trust has a captive breeding programme but until recently DEFRA would not allow them to release barn owls bred in captivity into the wild.
Our poor British barn owl has been suffering the effects of warmer, wetter Summers attributed to global warming.  Barns owl evolved, surrendering their feather waterproofing in favour of silent flight. This is essential if they want to catch small voles, their main diet. Unfortunately, if a barn owl gets wet, it cannot fly and once floored they die from the cold. If the climatic predictions are correct, our beautiful 'white ghosts' will be consigned to history. Unless they adapt.  Wild creatures in cages are not my thing, unless they are there as part of a breeding programme that helps to ensure their future survival.
Growing up in the early sixties, a caged bird in the house was a normal thing and there were many budgerigar breeders.  My grandmother had a beautiful bird, he moved with us to two new homes, traveling on our laps in the front seat of the car, cage covered by a tablecloth. He was her pride and joy because he talked ...
The wild side - try it but come home safely.
The Ballad of Billy the Budgie
My Nan had a beautiful budgie. An eloquent talker was he,
As blue as the sky in the Summer,
With a very accomplished vocabulary.
He called himself, ‘Best Boy in Blackpool’,
He invited us all to have tea,
He knew his address, he was nobody’s fool.
He knew all the names in our family.
For Nana had schooled him since chick-hood,
Repeating each phrase patiently,
And Billy her brightly plumed student,
Imitated her perfectly. 
One terrible day, Billy snuffed it
And fell of the perch in his cage.
Nana would take his loss badly
It’s hard to make friends at her age.
So Dad hurried off to a pet shop, And brought home a look-a-like bird, Its feathers were very convincing But this one did not say a word.
Nan told him that he must return it, This Billy Mark Two wouldn’t do
This was a female imposter,
The crest on the beak must be blue.
He bought her a bright yellow beauty, But Nan didn’t teach him to talk
I taught him to fly to my finger,
And from one to the other he’d walk.
I made him a circus performer,
I taught him a special new trick
By sitting him on the turntable
and spinning it round very quick.
And sometimes I would find Billy On top of our house cat’s head,
Curled up with our huge German shepherd,
Three unlikely pals in one bed.
But one day the window was open, And my Billy boy flew away,
I searched in the garden and called him,
I looked for him every day.
Then one day,  the weather was warmer, I sat by the village green,
There up in a tree was a bright yellow leaf:
All of the others were green.
I couldn’t believe it was Billy, I thought he was lost in the wild,
And when he flew onto my finger,
I was the happiest child.
He’d been on a week-long adventure, Up with the crows, in a tree,
Our feathered, intrepid explorer.
Billy the Budgie, Mark Three.
(A completely true story) Feb 2017   Hope you all have a wild week.  Thanks for reading.  Adele   Email ThisBlogThis!Share to TwitterShare to Facebook

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