You know that I believe that London and I are engaged in an actual, passionate, evolving love affair. And that she (definitely female today, it is International Women’s Day after all) frequently gives me little treats, just to prove that she is thinking of me….so it was with delight that I accepted the gift of a parrot, yesterday. On the Northern Line, obviously. Because London knows the Northern Line is a particular passion of mine. See how it works? I love, she rewards. If only all relationships were so simple.
So the parrot. Yesterday. As I was going through the barriers at Charing Cross I noticed that the man next to me had an enormous parrot on his shoulder. A real, live parrot. A huge thing. The bird was squawking loudly. The staff at Charing Cross were…well…cross. They clearly disapproved, but no where does it specifically say “No Parrots.” So down the escalator with me they went. “Don’t let that bird fly around,” one of the uniformed men shouted. I laughed, the parrot’s owner laughed, the man standing behind the man with the parrot laughed. The parrot squawked. On the platform the bird got even louder. People began photographing and taking videos of the man and his parrot. The man was positively beaming and the parrot hopped energetically from his shoulder to his arm to his hand and back again. Once on the train, the parrot clenched the bar in its beak and held on like a seasoned Northern Line commuter. The passengers loved it. Except for the poor girl with the dog. The dog was going insane. An actual winged creature in an enclosed space, better than 50 squirrels up a tree! It was all she could do to keep hold of the lead. She looked very stressed and wasn’t at all amused when the man started to bring the parrot closer to her frantic hound. “No, no please please don’t” she implored. The rest of us thought it was great. And then he got off at Waterloo. The moment was over. The carriage went quiet. But we all kept smiling at each other because we had all just seen a parrot on the Tube!!
Oh Northern Line, you just keep giving. I once saw a man carrying a surf board on the Northern Line. London is hardly a well known surfing destination, so the story making possibilities are endless….bad break up and the only thing she didn’t burn? A last minute decision to pack in the tedious desk job and live by the ocean? A lost bet?
My fabulous friend Lucy, while carrying a hula hoop, as one does, performed a spontaneous dance with a Charlie Chaplin look-alike on the Northern Line. Silently, obviously. About 18 months ago I travelled on the Northern Line in a gorilla costume. A proper, serious, full on gorilla costume. I was on my way to a charity run. For gorillas. No one even glanced at me. On the return trip I carried the furry costume, medal proudly slung round my neck, and that got strangers interested. A good looking young man was particularly eager to start up a conversation, asking me all about the costume and the run and other races I had done. I was feeling quite flattered by the attention. And then he said it, “Oh my Mum does all sorts of crazy stuff like that too. It’s great..” And I felt…jubilant. No really, I did. To hear a child, no matter the age, express appreciation for something their mother does, especially something slightly off beat, is to be treasured. Perhaps that is why the incident came back to me today of all days, International Women’s Day, two days after British Mother’s Day. In general, I have little time for such “Days.” Sadly, we live in a world were the lives of millions of women are grim, if not downright hideous, and no amount of special mentions or flowers is going to change that. However, saying something nice about your mother on public transport is a good start to making the world a better place. Seeing a parrot on the underground is pretty good too. Happy Day.