COLUMN: The Ely Grumpster’s ‘depressed budgie’

The Ely Grumpster

The Ely Grumpster - Credit: Archant

• A crisis has engulfed the Grumpster household - a depressed budgie.

Percy Sledge means more to Doris than even roll-ups and beer and until quite recently, he could be described as bird-world normal: madly pecking his cuttlefish and whispering sweet nothings at his mirror.

Doris even taught him a few words that he would repeat ad finitum (his favourites being “misery guts”, “slaphead” and “more tea vicar”).

However, a week ago he appeared to sink into a catatonic state.

• “Why don’t you ask the girls for their advice?” she asked in desperation. “Oh yes, great idea” I replied. “Barely a week went by in the nineties without a small mammal funeral. If one of the kids’ rabbits got past its first birthday, we would throw a street party and Her Maj would send it a card – “congratulations on evading the fox’s jaws for 12 months”.

• At that moment, our neighbour “Einstein Andy” wandered in, purportedly for a cuppa, but more likely to borrow twenty quid. Doris seized the moment and sought his advice (though such a course of action is normally about as productive as trying to get your trousers off after 8 pints of ghost ship). “Perhaps he is lonely and wants a mate? Maybe a bigger bird, something he can look up to?” he suggested, looking as pleased as a naturist with a bottle of factor 50. “What do you suggest?” I asked. “A heron? A golden eagle perhaps?”

• “Just shut old you old grouch” snarled Doris. “He’s right. Percy needs a pal. Saturday, it’s pet shop time”. It was probably just an intriguing coincidence, but at that second, Percy Sledge puffed up his feathers, tilted his head coquettishly to one side and looked me in the eye. “Slaphead!”. “Useless old fossil!” “Listen, he’s learned somefink new” shrieked Doris. “Who’s a clever boy then!”

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• That evening, we met Andy and Linda and Paul and Sandra at Le Spice for a curry. “Doris wants a mate for Percy Sledge”. I moaned. “’Cos ‘e is lonesome and needs a pal. It was Andy’s idea” opined Doris. “Yeah cheers mate. Anyway, here’s a good one. What do you call a horse with a passion for Thomas Hardy? No idea? The Mare of Casterbridge”. “Eh?” said Andy. “Don’t geddit” said Doris. “I am wasted on you lot” I moaned. “Hey Amin, stop chatting to those women and get me a beer…