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"It is better to be drunk with loss and to beat the ground, than to let the deeper things gradually escape."

- I. Compton-Burnett, letter to Francis King (1969)

"Cynical realism – it is the intelligent man’s best excuse for doing nothing in an intolerable situation."

- Aldous Huxley, "Time Must Have a Stop"

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Thursday, 22 January 2004

Topic: Oddities

Department of Blog Corrections: Old Parrots

On Tuesday, 20 January 2004, I posted this: Living History ? The Past is Always With Us. This was an item reporting that British war leader Winston Churchill's 104-year old parrot had been found by reporters from a British newspaper, and was still alive.

On the MSNBC show Countdown I saw a feature on this. I saw the bird.

Now there is some dispute. This seems to be a hoax.

See Churchill's rude parrot seems to be a flight of fancy
The Star (South Africa), January 22, 2004
London - Winston Churchill did not own a macaw and certainly did not teach it to swear, according to his daughter and experts on the British wartime leader.

They have been at pains to debunk reports that the parrot is alive and still cursing Hitler.

"My father never owned a macaw or anything remotely resembling it," Mary Soames said, although she acknowledged he had owned an African Grey for about three years before the war.

"The idea that he spent time in the war teaching it swear words is too tiresome for words," 81-year-old Lady Soames said.

She was responding to reports on Monday that the macaw was still shouting "F*** Hitler, f*** the Nazis" with Churchillian intonations from its perch in a garden centre, at the age of 104.

Charlie, the blue and yellow macaw at the centre of the controversy, currently lives in Reigate, south of London. Its owner, Peter Oram, insists the bird used to live with Sir Winston, causing consternation to Churchill's guests and providing its owner with constant amusement.

Oram says his father-in-law, Percy Dabner, sold Charlie to Churchill in 1937 and then took the bird back after his death in 1965.

The story now appears to be a hoax. - Sapa-DPA
Oh well.

The bird in question lives in Reigate in Surrey? The Holmes story The Reigate Puzzle that Arthur Conan Doyle penned opens with this:
It was some time before the health of my friend Mr. Sherlock Holmes recovered from the strain caused by his immense exertions in the spring of '87. The whole question of the Netherland-Sumatra Company and of the colossal schemes of Baron Maupertuis are too recent in the minds of the public, and are too intimately concerned with politics and finance to be fitting subjects for this series of sketches. They led, however, in an indirect fashion to a singular and complex problem which gave my friend an opportunity of demonstrating the value of a fresh weapon among the many with which he waged his life-long battle against crime.
But when Watson and Holmes arrive at the home of Colonel Hayter in Reigate there is no parrot.

I should have known.

Posted by Alan at 16:11 PST | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Thursday, 22 January 2004 16:19 PST home

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