Carat the Parrot
A local council tries to juggle the problem of needed development against preserving an endangered species. Some recognisable characters [caricatures?] take part in the discussions. Eventually the well-meaning locals are overwhelmed by the extremely powerful and arguments are overshadowed by image. But she who laughs …
Mayor Fernanda Rossini had been a nurse. She was on leave but was still a nurse to the core. She became a nurse to help people, a shire councillor and now mayor to serve the people. The “public spirited” gene could be a burden as well as a joy. At this moment, she wished herself back on the “Boy named Sue” shift in Frankston Hospital Casualty, late Saturday night. Nursing amidst the mud and the blood and the beer would be less stressful than this council meeting.
‘Madam Mayor we have discussed this at length on several occasions. The only possible site for the estate pump station is exactly where The Weeping Willow stands. The Willow is the perch of the last remaining male Gold Crested Parrot, perhaps the last individual. We dare not remove the tree, we cannot build a windmill and we must not build an estate. The land around the Willow needs to be preserved, so this council must reject the permit application.’
Later, Councillor Nguyen Anh Duc said he had sympathy for the parrot’s plight, but had supported the project at council because of the need for housing for refugees. He laughed when asked about “Carat the Parrot”. He believed that the parrot had been named by a town planner at the council offices because of the millions that had been and would be spent on him.
A bird landed on the branch over the car bonnet, perhaps a metre away from her. No it wasn’t a bird. It was the bird - the last remaining Gold Crested Parrot. The lovely rich green back and wing feathers softened to yellow green on the breast. Carat the Parrot raised his majestic coppery gold crest, tilted his head to one side and winked.
It's a nice village
A stranger in town speaks at a meeting – does the village need a development? Hugh queries the promise of the new development based on his experiences living in the relevant developer’s last project. The meeting passes through emotion, then turmoil and heads for outright violence.
Quickly however, a wave of calm passes through the hall and the meeting breaks up peaceably. Hugh notices that three women had moved unobtrusively to stand apart but near the dais. Could they have had an effect on the mood of the meeting?
The villagers are intent on conversations, although the topics are familiar. The harvest was good but not as marvelous as 1991. Will it rain before ploughing? Will the housing development go ahead on old Jim’s land? His citified offspring are keen to milk a profit now that Jim is gone. The development is why they are here.
Roger Vertigan stands by a screen on which his company logo is shining. He makes a mistake by doing the audience a favour. He shows how his company, out of the goodness of its heart, will provide houses, a lake, footpaths and kerbs, a site for a school or for parkland. He explains all of the benefits that the new residents will have. He patronizes them and he forgets that the items he glowingly describes are not for current villagers at all.
‘In this development, will your lake become a stagnant, polluted, mosquito-ridden health hazard like ours? Will your estate’s land move and crack the walls of new houses and will the company refuse compensation or repair? Will there be no school or parkland, just a waste ground ideal for snakes? Will the transport companies refuse to route buses through there? Will certain local politicians be under investigation for accepting bribes?’
Three women smoothly rose and moved forward independently to the area around the dais as anger grew. They stood still, straight and calm, apparently expressionless but perhaps concentrating. The anger rapidly dissipated.
Hugh knew that he had witnessed something remarkable between the three of them. No-one else seemed to notice.
Keith McTaggart has written articles, letters and educational books. The most recent Publications were for Blake Education and a button on the home page will take you to their website. The only reason the cover of out-of-print Flushing Dunnies [written with Paul Saddler]is displayed here is because the brilliant drawing by Patricia Bush of the Three Seater Bush Toilet still gives me pleasure.