I was not put on this earth to be decorative.
As children, both my sister Sue and I were extreme tomboys, eschewing dolls and prams for footballs and model spaceships. And we were dangerous.
Such was our reputation that the headmaster of our primary school, at first assembly of each new term, would routinely ask, “Which of the Cassidy sisters is in plaster this time?”
So there you have it. My maiden name was Cassidy. In the summer of my eleventh year, just before I was due to move up to my first grammar school, I managed to break my leg on roller skates. I was, therefore, christened by some perceptive (if not a little out-dated) wag with the nickname ‘Hopalong’ – and so I remained throughout my school days.
For some reason, Fate feels duty-bound to type-cast me forever. I am widely-known as being accident-prone, although in my defence I have to protest that often my injuries are not my own fault – that I am more unlucky than clumsy (although I may be that, too).
I mean, a spider bite (Bitten by Spain) is hardly an act of ineptitude on my part, although drilling a hole in my own leg (Tractors and Drills ) does admittedly fall into that category. And I will confess that I do sometimes take risks, like groping my way along the top of a high wall in the dark, in the wet, in heels ( Falling Rain) and clambering across a steep roof to recover a pathetic cat (Rescue!).
However, it is also true that often I am at the mercy of events that are foist upon me, rather than attributable to me.
Last week, I almost managed to modify my nose for free. I was looking after Ollie, the blue and gold macaw that resided with me for a year or so before he was adopted by Linda and Trevor, who have worked wonders with him and have turned him into a real cuddly bird. The trouble is, he is now so very friendly that he wants to be in someone’s arms all the time – not a possibility when I am trying to clean his flight. So as he swung down from the roof to grab me, I feinted sideways … into the end of a metal perch, face-first, and almost sliced off the tip of my nose.
There was a fair bit of blood, and a resulting effect of having been slashed by a lion. It elicited some raised eyebrows when I ventured forth into public places, but it has settled down now to a mere couple of fine lines that can be covered with a small trowel of concealer.
Not good enough for Fate. I have another parrot boarding with me this week. Mr. Pedro, I have already had cause to mention (The Good, the Bad and the Snuggly ), hates me with a vengeance. Despite constant protestations from Chris, his owner, who assured me when she left him this time that he hardly ever bites now (!), this parrot would kill me if he could but find the opportunity.
This morning I went into the flights to change water and dole out breakfast to all the parrots. In Pedro’s flight, I keep my distance – I wouldn’t even consider an attempt at handling him, as I find two hands are generally not enough and I cannot sacrifice one of them. Further, I enter that particular space bent double, to keep my face firmly pointed down and out of reach of his perch, since he has been known to swing upside down in an attempt to take out my eyes. A face full of parrot does not appeal.
Generally, I find that this works, provided I am quick with the removal of the food bowls.
Today, he was having none of it. As soon as I was in and at his mercy, he actually flung himself bodily off his perch and landed on the back of my head. There, he dug all his claws into my scalp to make sure I couldn’t shake him off, and proceeded to bury the point of his upper beak under the skin, while grinding away with the flat edge of the bottom beak in an attempt to scalp me.
The scalp is a thin piece of skin stretched tautly across the skull. When it is split, it bleeds profusely. I could feel blood running through my hair, but I didn’t dare raise my hands to dislodge my stowaway, for fear of macerated fingers. So I had to grit my teeth and bend further so that he was actually hanging upside down from the top of my head. Then I was able to brush him against a lower perch until he disengaged from my tattered skull.
This occurred almost twelve hours ago. The wound is still weeping dismally, and I am feeling sorry for myself. All ‘ aaah’ and ‘poor you’ expressions of sympathy will be welcome.
This all happened at stupid o’clock this morning, a time at which I am routinely having to heave myself out of bed these days. The cool and changeable weather we were dealt in April has given way to meltdown this week, and I have to get out to water the baby vegetable plants in the huerta before the sun gets to them. I also have to feed and water the parrots and my own pack of hounds before ascending from the house to the kennels to see to residents at around 7am.
Who said I came to Spain for the relaxed lifestyle, the mañana mañana attitude? What went wrong?