This week’s Last Word was going to be about the beauty of truth, the pursuit of knowledge and a philosophical journey into the psyche of the writer. Then a parakeet pooped on my head and I thought that might be more interesting.
It was simultaneously the most exotic and depressing thing to have happened to me all year. Exotic because we don’t have parakeets where I come from, and depressing because… well, I thought that was pretty obvious.
There I was, minding my own business, walking down the street when I was splattered from above. It came as quite a shock. To make matters worse there was a witness to the incident. I couldn’t even pretend it didn’t happen. I don’t actually know what the correct etiquette for dealing with being attacked from above in this way is, but I suspect I could have handled it better.
“DID YOU SEE WHAT THAT CLUCKING BIRD JUST DID TO MY HEAD?” I screeched, while pointing dumbly to the skies. (Actually that’s not exactly what I said, but this is a family magazine.)
“Not just any bird – a parakeet,” said the eye witness, exhibiting talent for observation and a flair for cryptic answers. Looking up, I saw he was right and I couldn’t help but smile. The type of bird should not have mattered. But it did. My assailant went from being a winged assassin to a novelty sighting. Something to tell the folks back home. With his simple answer our conversation came to its end and the wise stranger left and went on his way.
I was left thinking how lucky I had been to see such a rare, beautiful bird.Like I said, we don’t have many parakeets where I come from. Every time I see one fly overhead, it’s a little reminder that I’m living in a foreign country. A country where parakeets fill the skies, camels gaze back from the roadside and turtles swim in the sea. Isn’t that exciting?
People who have lived here their whole life must find these experiences very normal and mundane. In the 10 years I’ve been here I still haven’t got used to it. I hope I never will.
Do people see crows, whippets and sheep in my UK home town and consider them glamorous and unusual? It’s hard to believe, but perhaps they do. Maybe that’s the knowledge I was looking for. Maybe that’s life: you get dumped on sometimes, but if you see some interesting things it doesn’t seem as bad. If that’s not philosophy enough for you, then here’s a final thought: always carry clean tissues. You never know when you’ll need them.