Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Chapter 3 of Pretty Poli

3.
Animal Rationis Capax Otiose Paenitet

The parrot in short order found himself most unceremoniously bundled from the building, much to the hilarity of the topers congregating still across the road on Turbo Island. Affecting to ignore the foul execrations flung at him by those gentlefolk, he levered himself upright and, by now without his scooter, which had presumably been appropriated by some wave-particle in the fusion of anarchy, on clawed foot took his disconsolate way down the shallow slope into the city centre. What ensued as the shadows lengthened is lost to this chronicle. The natural surmise is that the parrot took in some ditch somewhere such repose as his troubled conscience that night afforded him.

Suffice to say, at an unforgiving hour the following morning, he was to be observed in the purlieus of Easton - Robertson Road, to be precise, where it adjoined Foster Street - perched on a telegraph pole and eyeing the entrance to the premises on the corner across the road. The rain had not stinted since the prior forenoon, but had rather increased in both intensity and oleaginousness, now manifesting itself as an unremittingly nasty and viscous affair, and seeming by this means to answer to the despondency which the parrot published to the world, as he hunched up there in silhouette amongst the tree’s scanty twigs. The establishment opposite which he kept his vigil rejoiced in the name ‘Club Autonomie’, and announced itself as a community centre, a noble aspiration somewhat belied by the notices posted on its windows, a gamey stew of distinctly antisocial revolutionary socialism.

After some thirty minutes or so, there appeared without a scowling middle-aged lady in bedraggled dreadlocks, who unlocked the black door set into the corner, and then stood there momentarily, eyeing suspiciously the lengths of the two streets. The parrot, taking advantage of her stasis, fluttered down from his perch and marched in by the door which she held ajar. For her part, the lady beadle of that admirable establishment affected not to be surprised at the advent of that harlequin ambassador of the tropical, being no doubt much practised in never letting slip the mask of diversity-acceptance.

Within the Club, a number of chairs in mismatched formica were place around a couple of tables. A pungent odour of the 1970’s permeated throughout. The parrot rather wearily hauled himself onto an eviscerated reproduction fauteuil, and addressed his new companion.
“Nice gaff you got here. You wouldn’t happen to have about the place a copy of the Anarchist Bible? I did hear that you might.”
“Only certain fragments,” said that crusty personage rather doubtfully, “it keeps getting burned. Was there anything in particular … ?”
“I have in mind a sort of oath which I want to swear,” said the parrot, “pertaining to my future conduct.”
“Well,” replied the nymph of the grove, “the Book of Autonomous Actions is nearly complete, and only slightly singed, but I don’t know, it might not be sweary enough.”
“It’s all one to me,” said the parrot in his extremis, “either that or the Book of the Spectacle will amply serve my purpose.”
“Autonomous Actions it is then,” said his hostess, reaching up to the high shelf that ran along the back wall, and fishing therefrom a grimy sheaf of loose papers. This she placed upon the low table in front of the parrot’s fauteuil. The parrot clambered over onto the table and, placing his right claw upon the Holy Book, solemnly intoned the following words:-
“I, Hawksmoor the parrot, on this April Fool’s Day do take an oath before Bakunin, Kropotkin and Proudhon, the presiding spirits of non-hierarchical social organisation, here in this profane temple, that I will refrain from all equine anaesthetics, Latin-American talcums and amphetamine-based substances for a period of twenty-one years to come. And this I swear upon this Book of Autonomous Actions, and may I be robbed of my remarkable linguistic and cognitive abilities if I break this my oath.”
Fortified by the resolve which the making of this oath had implanted in his afflicted breast, Hawksmoor immediately quit the environs of the Club Autonomie, and set about searching for his forsaken consort and their unhatched egg. 

The fruitlessness of this endeavour became swiftly apparent. The gentleman with whom he had misguidedly transacted had dropped certain hints as to his being occupied as some kind of animal behavioural scientist, perhaps even the ‘hornotholojit’ of the Infirmity Lady’s divination. Nevertheless, he had left no name or forwarding particulars, email address, mobile number, or other means by which he might be contacted. Furthermore, Hawksmoor was exceeding loth to make enquiries at the municipal zoo up on the edge of Durdham Downs, lest the panjandrums of that bestiary view him under the specie of an acquisition, and lay rough hands upon him, and by main force incorporate him into the aviary which they maintained in that place. Being nonetheless reluctant to derogate from his duty of reuniting himself with his wronged consort, he made his way into the centre of the metropolis, and then up the hill at the top of which, like some Benthamite speculum surveying the life seething below it, brooded the University. Alas! withal it was an oracle of many mouths, very many of the mouths in question were stoppered by beadles officiating most punctiliously as the corks of those orifices, who drove Hawksmoor thence with staves and execrations, considering it not mete nor condign that a bird should be afforded the considerations due to an erect hominid. Other portals, in principle more willing to be of assistance, were perforce gnomic and unavailing in their efforts, Hawksmoor contributing to this lamentable state of affairs in view of being unable to supply name, nor department, nor faculty pertaining to the personage who had made off with his spouse.


Eventually, all roads leading to culs de sac and stoppered mouths, Hawksmoor was forced to concede the fruitlessness of his quest. Reluctantly, he determined that he would secure himself a perch in a district of Bristol which he had for some time had his eye on, and there seek by honest swinking to ascend the greasy pole of human endeavour. Reaching this determination, he demurred not but straightaway took wing, and flew from the centre of the metropolis out over Spike Island, until he came to Windmill Hill, where he foraged and scratched around amongst the scanty twigs and grasses of that meadow, and gradually built himself a most comely bower, which in later years became an arts centre, being known as the Parrot’s Palace.

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