A Bird in the Hand..

ParrotWhen a joke backfires. Oh dear.

My new neighbours, Vanessa and Craig, with their two delightful off-spring, Reuben and Cicily, had a house-warming party three days ago; we had some lucky heather to give to them and since recently we had been talking a lot about palm reading and doing it in an Irish accent, I decided to combine the two activities and marry it all with a bit of a saucy joke.

My ‘ex’, John, used to relish finding a suitable suspect to play this practical joke on, but the recipient had to be particularly broad-minded. The joke went as follows; you take the hand of the person and hum and ha a bit and ask…’Have you had a parrot in this hand?’ The answer is always ‘No’!!

So, you ask for the other hand and say, ’Ah, but I see you’ve had a cockatoo in this hand!’ There follows some hilarity and coy looks. I’ve witnessed many a culprit but never delivered it myself.

On Tuesday I decided to try my luck at this ploy, but seeing the company at the gathering I thought better of it. So the following morning I gave Vanessa her lucky heather and asked her if she knew about my prowess as a fortune teller, proclaiming I’d often been pretty accurate in my predictions. She didn’t look too surprised, so I took her left hand, asked if she was right-handed, and proceeded. I deliberated and stroked her hand, then pointed at a line from her wrist to her index and asked ‘Funny question, but have you ever had a parrot in this hand’? ‘Parrot’ she repeated. ‘Parrot’?

‘Yes’, I said ‘a parrot’.

‘Umm’, she looks puzzled, ’why do you ask that?

This wasn’t going the way I wanted, so I said ‘Right’, and pushed to get to the punch line before she suspected there was a rabbit away, ‘you’re right-handed aren’t you’?

‘Yes’ says the suspicious victim.

‘Then let me see here. Ahah!’ But you’ve had a cockatoo in this hand I can see’!

She giggled a bit and walked into her new home, coming back with her husband with a grin from ear to ear.

‘How did you do that?’ She was absolutely beaming.

‘Well it’s a knack I have,’ I lied.

‘My mother wouldn’t have a dog in the house, so my father took me to Leeds market and got me a parrot and a cockatoo’ she explained.

Talk about taking the wind out of your sails. Can you Adam and Eve it?

 

 

 

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Wordsmyth

butterfly1_thumb

Not for the first time am I confused by the true meaning of a word or phrase. As a child, before the general use of showers, my maternal grandmother taught me that cleanliness was akin to godliness. And she duly instructed me how to be sure of both of these disciplines by teaching the art of washing ones’ whole body with three inches of tepid water, It goes like this; you wash up as far as possible and then down as far as possible; then you wash ‘possible’. Over subsequent childhood years this anomaly puzzled me somewhat, but no more than the second untruth.
Ladies, women, girls do not ‘pass wind’; they do a ‘butterfly’. Hence, ” Oh dear, was that a little butterfly?” How charming. And so it is that those points of interest were portrayed to me as a timid child; and to this day, phrases such as “No…that can’t be ‘possible’ ” and ” If only that were ‘possible'”……..you get my drift, have childhood connotations that have little or nothing to do with the current subject matter. And a butterfly, drifting in the summer breeze, flitting from flower to flower as delicate as a , well now, how can I put it, bears no rsemblance whatsoever to my initial beliefs.
In France now, I have had many a juxtapostion with one innocuous phrase. ‘Ah Bon’ With a question mark intonation. Literally…’Ah, Good’; but no, that’s not the case, as you will see. Not so long ago, a particularly good friend of mine had been visiting me regularly at my home in France. Sadly, her husband, after two or three visits, was unable to accompany her and she came alone on these little sojourns. Some time later, he died. When I visited the local bar one day, shortly after his demise, the patron duly asked me if I was well. I assured him that I was fine but asked him if he could recall my friend, who had been present at his 50th birthday party. He could remember her well; so I was saddened to have to tell him that her husband had died. His reposte was “Ah Bon!”. ‘No’ , I said ‘Pas Bon’, Not Good, “Il est mort”, He’s dead! His mannerisms were testimony to the fact that the words and meaning behind them words were totally differnt.

Shortly after that, I was obliged to visit a specialist about a minor problem; “Have you any other ailments?” she asked me. ‘Oh Yes,’ I replied, ‘I have fibromyalgia’!. “Ah, Bon” came the exclamation, ‘No,’ I said, ‘Not Good, It’s very painful’!!

James and the Giant Gaff

1979 and my three eldest children share the same pony……a fat would-be Shetland called Willie. That is, until Mr Snow arrived on the scene. Willie was a black, rotund, hairy character with a most endearing habit of lying down to roll when the mood took him, even when being ridden. So dismounting was a skill the children learnt very quickly.

One Saturday morning on a Bank Holiday weekend and  ‘en famille’ we were looking at bedroom furniture in our local store. We knew the owners quite well. All was calm, no piped music in those days, just  the odd couple browsing beds and wardrobes, some flicking through carpet samples. Our friend James, the proprietor , wandering through his domain, spotted us deliberating over a new bed and came over to pass the time of day ( and hopefully secure a sale).

A quiet, respectful and gentle man with a kindly manner, he knew our children well and made small talk with them; hands behind his back rocking on the balls of his feet slightly.Willie I can see him quite clearly as he looked down on my small son and asked ‘ So, what are you going to do this weekend then? Are you going to get your Willie out?’

 

Buying a Pram

Pram

Joyce tells me there are at least twenty charity shops in Chester – le – Street . None of them sells second-hand prams.

But you can get a good one off e-bay for little money.  In the end she bought one off e-bay.

Joyce didn’t want another pram really; well, she did, but it was for her husband. Not exactly FOR her husband,  but to give to him as part of the equipment for his new hobby.

He’s got a cap with a suitable motif on the peak, an embossed tee-shirt,  casual slightly elasticated cotton trousers, for bending and  a pair of non-slip trainers.. To her surprise, the grand-children have taken a keen interest too in this pastime, so they have  the same ‘gear’ too….all matching. The pram was the last piece of equipment they needed. It had to go in the  back of the car with everything else so it needed to fold down.

Health and Safety measures don’t allow charity shops to sell used prams but that wasn’t going to put Joyce off. She still visited every single charity shop on both sides of the main road in Chester –  le  – Street;.well, I suppose you never know. That was while Ian stood outside, hoping for success. After more than half of the shops explained why they didn’t handle prams any more,  Joyce  simply said to the assistants, ‘Don’t say ‘No’ to a pram if you’re offered one……we don’t want it for a  baby. This is our telephone number. Thank you very much’.

It’s exciting having a new hobby. As a grand-parent myself, I can see how there is a definite attraction to participating in an activity with one’s grand-children: especially when it is akin to something close to your heart  during your professional life……well, nearly.  Ian was a sub-mariner.

I think Joyce is happy to see her family enjoy themselves, but, sadly, she can’t participate because of the new puppy. She has to keep  Sheeba at the other side of the lake as they while away the hours ‘of a Sunday afternoon’: and sometimes Saturdays and all of the school holidays.  But she assures me that the dog is really good company and that she’s met lots of nice people at the far side of the lake because of the dog.

Seemingly, most of the other participants have a second-hand pram too  as part of their equipment. Joyce can keep an eye on it from the far bank.

Have you ever seen a grown man pushing a pram laden with remote-controlled boats?