He looked down on everyone from his lofty perch - but little did he know he was being considered as a tasty snack! 

The house guest peered loftily down from his perch in his ornate gilded cage. He was a smallish grey cockatiel named Skipper. His language was fast, furious, and thick with blessings (and the occasional expletive) to all who came near him. 

The cats lined up to look at the usurper. Garfield, the gastronome, was mentally thumbing through his cordon bleu cookbooks. Cockatiel au vin, perhaps? Cockatiel chasseur, maybe? Or perhaps cockatiel en croute? He licked his lips with anticipation.

Charlie, who was only a couple of years old, didn’t know much about such delicacies. His palate was much more fundamental. He was thinking more along the lines of baked birdie, birdie biryani or cockatiel ‘n’ chips.

Biggles, meanwhile, having cast a glance at Skipper, decided that it was all too much effort to think about, and had returned to his corner on the settee. All that plucking! Didn’t bear thinking about, he thought briefly to himself, not wanting to think about it.

So Skipper was safe . At least for the moment. Although Garfield was still searching for that ideal gourmet recipe Charlie had become bored with a close up view and decided to hide behind the door. He peeked anxiously from behind the other side of the door, keeping an eye as much on Garfield as he did on Skipper. After becoming cross-eyed and cross-tempered he went for a walk around the garden to think about this new situation. He would take his cue from Garfield, he decided. Garfield ALWAYS knew what to do in any circumstance.

Meanwhile, Garfield was still mentally thumbing through his ‘Single Pot Cuisine for the Lazy Cat’ while Skipper watched him from his swing, a string of quite eyebrow raising vocabulary had now replaced his earlier pleasantries. Biggles, who became embarrassed easily, hoped that the vicar wouldn’t choose this moment to pop in for one of his chats. He had heard him talking about being judged by the company you keep and didn’t want the vicar to think any the less of him by his brief association with Skipper - who had, at first meeting, seemed to be a fairly polite and reserved sort of guest. Short of taping his beak up there wasn’t much anyone could do to stem the tide of his rather blue version of Silent Night, which had been Biggles’ favourite Christmas carol. Skipper, no longer the centre of attention, vented his blessings and wolf whistled to his hearts content once again. This new hotel was OK. Not quite up to his usual standards, but for the week his folks were in Chicago, he could manage. Didn’t think much of the three furry four-legged orangy things, but he’d seen worse.

He hopped from perch to perch and noticed Biggles fast asleep on the sofa. He quite liked Biggles, he had decided. Charlie, the little guy, was quite cute but he wouldn’t trust Garfield, the bigger one, further than he could spit sesame seeds. He’d been eyeing him up a tad too suspiciously for Skipper’s liking. He wondered what he had wanted the tape measure for and was concerned when various diagrams had been drawn showing a birdlike creature in the centre of a round pot of some sort and Garfield had picked handfuls of herbs from the garden.

Sensing Skipper’s unease, I gave them all a strict talking to. Mainly along the lines that it was the height of bad manners and in extremely poor taste (they forgave the unintentional pun) to eat the guests. Feeling more relieved, he settled down to a week of singing, whistling, bestowing blessings, (and the occasional cockatiel curse or two), and whipping up a whirlwind of birdseed all over the carpet.

 

© Pauline Dewberry 2002

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