Not only can the Parrot speak, but he is a great orator too. His political career has lift-off! He is standing in the first ever election for World President, and is in second place in the opinion polls. The front-runner is a mysterious pop singer known as Diva. She favours appeasement with the cat people – GRRRRRRR! The Traitor!
Story by Bertie.
Read by Richard.
Proofread by Jana Elizabeth.
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The Parrot for President –
I know full well that politics is not everyone’s favourite biscuit. Our leaders like to talk, and talk… and talk… On and on they go, about the budget or the future of the country – and for some reason they always mention their fathers. Mine was a grocer says one, mine was a stockbroker says another, and mine was a professor says a third. Well let me tell you, my dad was a labrador, but I don’t feel the need to make speeches about him.
Anyway, there is one politician whom I think we can all agree is never boring. That is my dear friend and comrade on many a space adventure, the Parrot Major.
When the humans understood the true threat from alien birds and the cat people, the shock and the panic had one positive effect. For the first time, all the countries of the world realized that they must work together to defend our beautiful blue planet against external dangers from beyond our solar system. That’s why the humans held an election for the new post of World President.
A crowd of old politicians came out of their retirement homes, with bouffant hair, shark-white teeth, and orange tanned faces – all hoping for a second career running the world.
There were various also-rans, but the main interest focused around two newcomers to politics. One was of course our dear Parrot, the other was the chart-topping pop singer known as Diva.
At first, few of the pundits took Diva at all seriously. After all, she was best known for wriggling around on YouTube in her underwear, while caterwauling some so called tune. Why would anyone want her to guide the world through dangerous times? Well as it turned out, quite a few people did.
First off, she released a single called ‘Let’s talk to the animals.’ Her message was simple. Open negotiations with the cat people. I saw her on TV. She was lined up with three other presidential hopefuls, but was the only one showing her belly button and the safety pin that was attached through it. Her sparkly top fell off her left shoulder, revealing a tattoo of a black cat. At first, I refused to be shocked. Her hair was dyed purple. You have to admit she was a new sort of politician. When she spoke, I could not help growling at the screen: “GRRRR the TRAITOR!!!” For she was uttering words stirring anger in my dog’s heart:
“How come in the 21st century, our smartest furry friends are denied the simple right to vote? I stand for inclusivity. Nine out of ten cats would vote for me to be President. That is the only reason why the current corrupt and outdated establishment denies cats a say at the ballot box.”
The rabble in the studio audience gave her loud claps and cheers, and, I could swear to it, the odd meow. The old boys on the podium were sweating under the studio lights. You could see they were rattled by her rabble rousing.
Now I understood why the Parrot refused to come on the same programme as her. He was taking a principled stand against a fiendish woman who wanted to sell out the world to the cat people. If she was elected, this could mean the end of life as we know it.
But – ohhhh – her popularity ratings soared. She had an element of mystery that appealed. Nobody really knew where she came from. French people thought she was French, Americans thought she was American, and Chinese thought she was Chinese. It was hard to tell from either her looks or her voice. She could have been any of those nationalities, or perhaps a mix of all of them. Her pointy face was pretty – in some people’s eyes, but to an old fashioned dog like me she just seemed strange, very strange… Thank goodness she was not my owner, I kept thinking.
The Parrot was trailing in second place. After all, it was he who had revealed to the world, the true extent of the alien threat, as you no doubt heard in my previous story, Professor Astropup. He was popular too. The humans flocked like birds to his rallies. He could easily fill national football stadiums with his supporters. They had never seen anything like him – yes he was clearly completely crazy – but he was also a prodigy, a genius – a talking bird, for Heavens’ sake. In his own words:
“Our world faces an uncertain destiny. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents and endure the inter-galactic storms that may come. Let it be said by our children’s children that when we were tested we did not turn our backs nor did we falter. We must stand shoulder to feather. It may seem strange to you that I, a Parrot, answer the call of destiny. But strange times call for stranger solutions. We face a threat from beyond the final frontier – and I alone among you – I who am clothed in nothing but feathers – have already made a solo journey to that unknown realm – and when the moment came to look the alien enemy in the eye – I did not hesitate to do my duty – nor will I ever hesitate to do my duty!”
I noted the ‘alone’ – had he forgotten his faithful canine friend? I did not mind. Neither fame nor notoriety appealed to me. I was pleased to hear his rallying supporters cheer the Parrot to the skies. But I meant to stay out of politics, and not take part in his campaign. It was a mere chance that drew me in.
The university of Los Angeles invited me to undergo a brain scan. They wanted to see if my space travels had any effect on my thought waves. Had I become more intelligent? I hoped not. They very kindly put me up in a comfy kennel in the leafy part of the city known as Beverly Hills. It’s a pleasant place where many a film or rock star has built a veritable palace. My kennel was on the grounds of a luxury hotel – and it just so happened that one of the other guests was none other than Miss Diva herself.
At first I failed to celebrity-spot her. I was in the garden restaurant, set under the lush green trees, where humming birds flutter around and white coated waiters scurry to and fro among the tables. I myself was enraptured by my bowl of the finest fillet steak cooked to perfection by the top notch chef of the hotel. But while I was wolfing down my grub, a strange sensation came to me. Why, when I was enjoying such a gastronomic treat, did I suddenly feel queasy. My brain took a moment or two to realize that my nostrils were filling up with the terrible stench of cat. But this was no ordinary cat smell. It was overpowering. It was like nothing on earth that I had smelt before – but I had smelt it before – on a different world – on the plant of the cats!!!!
“Oh no,” I thought, this is my final meal – a hit squad of ninja cat people had come to take me out!
But I did not find myself looking down the barrel of a laser gun. Instead, I saw the unmistakable figure of Miss Diva sitting at a table and ordering fillet of sea bass.
GRRRRR! I was tempted to chase her up a tree there and then – for now I knew, as sure as meaty chunks are meaty chunks, that the spangly pop star politician was nothing other than a cat person in disguise. But how to prove it?
It so happened, that Los Angeles was the headquarters of the Parrot’s social media campaign. A group of students at the university were tweeting and facebooking and Google glassing for him. And by the greatest good fortune – he was flying in the next day to visit his team for a twitter-fest.
We met in the early evening, amid the delicate aroma of candy floss, fried onions and hot dogs, on the pier at Santa Monica. From there we took a stroll along the beach by the lapping waves of the Pacific Ocean, under a vast blue sky – without a cloud or a hint of an alien spaceship in sight. It was only in this wonderful place, with no one but the occasional afterwork surfer, that we could feel safe to talk freely. I don’t mean to sound paranoid, but alien surveillance is everywhere.
When I told my feathered friend of my extraordinary discovery about the true nature of Diva, he said:
“AHHHH! I should have guessed! So she’s the agent who is broadcasting fish code to the cat people!”
“Fish code?” I said, dumbfounded.
“Precisely,” he replied. “The CIA have been monitoring a video of a goldfish tank on YouTube. Would you believe it? They suspected yours truly. They hauled me in and wired up my left wing to a lie detector.”
“Suspected you of what?” I said.
“Of sending encoded fish messages to the cat people.”
This was all too much for my doggy brain but the Parrot explained that the cat people used an alien technology that could force fish to swim in certain patterns. Those patterns had meanings which could be encoded. It was their secret method of communicating, but as he, the Parrot, was the one who had first cracked the fish code for the World Space Centre, he was able to prove how unlikely it was that he would actually be using it to broadcast covert messages.
“Oh I see,” I said, but I didn’t really.
“Now we know,” said the Parrot. “Wherever the so called Diva goes, she must take a fish tank with her. That’s all we need to prove. We must break into her room and photograph it.”
“Break in and burgle the hotel room of your political opponent?” I said. “I might be a dumb dog, but that has the making of a scandal to me.”
“Nawwww” replied the Parrot confidently. “We’ll cover it up.”
That very night, Diva was due to appear on live network TV, coast to coast. We watched her leave the hotel. I went into the reception and started barking madly at the receptionist.
“Go on, get out of here you mutt,” he said.
But I just barked louder still. Wuff Wuff Wuff!
An expensively dressed old lady was saying: “Can’t you get that stray out of here?”
“Be gone you bone-head!” said the bell boy, but he was not brave enough to approach me. The receptionist came to help, and in the commotion, the Parrot had a chance to fly in and print an electronic key for room 421 – the presidential suit that was occupied by Diva.
Sure enough, we discovered the fish swimming in the jacuzzi. The Parrot had a camera attached to his forehead and was filming everything. I examined the door posts and the bed and found unmistakable signs of cat scratching – and then I came across the surest proof of all – a box of mice in the cupboard. She was a cat person all right and there was no denying it!
The Parrot switched on the TV – the announcer was saying that in just half an hour they would be joined by the woman who – if the opinion polls did not lie – would be President of the world in just ten days time.”
“She’s no woman!” squawked the Parrot. “She’s a feline fiend! Let’s get down there before it’s too late.”
“Down where?” I asked.
“To the TV centre, dumbo, and bring the box of mice, we are going to need them.”
Now normally getting into a TV centre would be no easy matter. They are heavily guarded to prevent the public bumping into the celebrities whom they slavishly worship. But as the Parrot was a presidential candidate, and at that time the most famous bird in the world, we were able to squark our way past security. We met one of the Parrot’s contacts – a producer in the newsroom – who led us through the corridors to the main theatre. Diva was already on air before a live audience of carefully selected cat lovers. It was a soft and light hearted interview – chat and small talk, name dropping and cosy in-jokes. We could hear the titters of polite laughter.
“The studio bosses are right behind her,” said our young producer friend. “They think a pop Diva as President will triple the ratings for the news shows.”
“Never mind that,” said the Parrot. “We are about to make a television first. This will go viral. They’ll never stop showing it… Now my little ones, my brave squeaky friends – go and change the course of history.”
He was talking of course to the mice. We released them from the box, and they went scampering across the stage. At first they ran over the interviewer’s feet, and then out into the full view of the cameras. The audience thought it was a joke and started to laugh. The presenter said:
“It seems we’ve got a small problem – three small problems.”
But nobody got the joke. That instant, Diva sprang out of her chair and pounced on the brave little heroes. She couldn’t help herself. It was the reflex action of her inner cat. There was no mistaking her feline nature now. Her arched back – her doubled jointed hind legs that bent backwards – her mouth open revealing pointy fanged teeth – she was at least half cat. The Parrot flew in and dive bombed down pecking at her ears. I skidded across the floor barking my head off. It was mayhem on the stage. Not so much like a political chat show, as a Tom and Jerry cartoon! The security men arrived, and one of them pointed a fire extinguisher at us – white foam covered the stage making it even more slippery. The presenter got up and immediately fell over. The audience did not know whether to scream or laugh. They did both.
Now the political fallout from this show was a complete collapse in the opinion poll ratings of the Diva. The humans are slow to catch on, but now at long last they could see through her fiendish impersonation.
Let me say that she was an unusual cat person. She was perhaps more person than cat on the outside. But we had shown that she was a true feline on the inside. It was the end of her political career. She retired with the millions she had made from her so called music to a cats’ home.
The timing could not have been better for the Parrot. With the election so close, his own ratings went through the roof. Who could doubt that a bird was the best qualified candidate for President of the World, when he was the only one who saw through their filthy feline tricks!
The night that he was elected – what a party that was! The skies were filled with the chorus of bird tweets. Birds are not normally political creatures, but they could not fail to celebrate the success of one of their own. The Parrot fought back the tears as he made his acceptance speech:
“Humans, I perch before you humbled. I thank you from the bottom of my claws for entrusting me with your votes, and for electing me, a bird, as your leader. But we must always remember that we share our planet with other living creatures. Not only humans and birds, but mammals, insects, crustaceans, invertebrates, amphibians, and last, but not least, fish. You other creatures have not taken part in this election, nor did you wish to, but I will not forget you either. We are all united on this planet by a common danger. We shall stand together. We shall never surrender!”
The cheers reached the skies – and perhaps beyond – for I have no doubt that there were still other species out there listening with great interest to the Parrot’s speech.
Thank you Astropup. And that was the story of the Parrot for President. So now you have had a little glimpse of our future. Perhaps when you are grown up, you will see a parrot become leader of the world.
In the meantime, Bertie has asked me to make a request to help us if you can.