Monday, 14 May 2012

Why you should never french kiss a Budgerigar in front of your children.

My biggest fear is that I'll live an "average life".
 I have a phobia of boredom and a hatred of conformity. The people I am drawn to are those who take risks and those who live a varied life.
I've never wanted to settle and I will never be happy with just "a little life".
My life needs to be big, it's the only thing that I'm happy to have "super sized" and to go large with.

 I'm not referring to possessions or money. God knows I have had more than enough of both and I've also seen how much rot and selfishness they can bring to good and funny people. I've had it, I've spent it and I've lost it and it doesn't bother me.
I'm talking about experiencing greater things and not coasting along in my comfort zone.
It didn't take much therapy to show me that who I am and what I am is part of what has happened to me in my past so I know the reason I've always been drawn to the slightly insane stems from my growing up in a house full of the beautifully deranged.


I was brought up not to conform. I was always taught to look for the unusual and to do what I pleased.
My mother has the most anarchic sense of humour. It wasn't unusual for my father to be sitting reading the newspaper only to find flames licking around his fingers because my mother had set fire to it or for us to be sitting around the dinner table and for her to suddenly start howling like a wolf. 
Meal times were fun times because we never knew who was going to get a raw egg cracked over their head (mostly always my father) or a face full of mashed potato.
Even now as I approach middle age, if there's a food fight going on, you bet I want to be there.


I grew up in an average house with some not very average people. There were numerous visitors and characters that passed through but this was the Warner household and so the Warner's were the stars of the show. Any illness, crisis, dispute or celebration was played out with the highest level of drama and theatrics and if anything ever needed saying - then the only way to get your message across was to scream it. There were five of us and a couple of pets through the years but the pet I remember most is a Budgie called Benji.

Benji the budgerigar is an excellent marker to show the mental state within the Warner household.
Benji belonged to my older brother so the bird to me was always pretty boring. He didn't really register as something to admire, look after or even pay attention to. Sure enough, every morning before school the bird would be in his cage, chirping away or sharpening his beak on a dried cuttlefish and sure enough every afternoon, after school, he'd be doing the exact same thing.
There were only two occasions when he got my absolute and undivided attention.

The first was when my dad caught a wild bird and decided to introduce it by opening the door of the cage and placing the thing gently on Benji's perch. I have never seen so many feathers fly through a cage door in my life and Benji proved once and for all that he wanted to and should be left alone.
His behaviour that day was akin to Hannibal Lecter (with wings and a beak).
Not long after this my interest in Benji hit its peak when I came down the stairs and walked into the kitchen to find the bird on the kitchen table and my dad trying to give him mouth to mouth. I looked quickly to my mum for some kind of reassurance that Budgie wasn't on the breakfast menu to be told "Benji's dead and your dads trying to bring him back to life, don't tell your brother".

Unfortunately, the breath of a grown man into the beak of a dying budgie did not denote the second coming of Benji, nor did he rise from the grave after my dad placed him under the grill to see if the warmth of that would help ( I swear to heaven above this DID happen).
The best part of that day for me was running back up the stairs and saying to my brother "you best get downstairs, Dad's kissing Benji".

Not surprisingly soon after that my relationship with my older brother soured like a bottle of milk that had been left out in the sun without it's top on. Things were never the same again. All I had to do was tweet gently from my bedroom or make the sound of a pair of flapping wings to feel the force of my brothers fists raining down on me. The battle lines were drawn with the beak of a dead budgerigar and every morning before school there were fisticuffs and karate kicks.

I'm not implying the reason I can't hold down a relationship for more than three years or I cannot bear to have anyone telling me what to do is because I saw my dad with a dead budgie in his mouth. I'm just giving examples of why sometimes my reactions and thinking may not be what everybody is expecting. I found I admired that bird after he fought like a ninja to protect his cage from some interloper and I also found that I started to feel my dad was probably a few sandwiches short of a picnic.

I also found that I started to count down the days to see what he was going to do when the dog dropped dead.

Life should be about having fun and not doing what is expected of you.
It should be about setting fire to newspapers and throwing mashed potato at each other.
It should be about howling like a wolf every now and again and doing karate kicks at the breakfast table.

Don't ever settle for sitting on a perch and sharpening your beak on a cuttlefish.
Before you know it you could be flat on your back on the kitchen table with an unknown man trying to give you the kiss of life or trying to toast you under a burning grill.

Instead, throw open your cage doors, spread your wings and fly . . .

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