‘He was silent to begin with. The pet-shop owner had promised the parrot would learn quickly but I had spent weeks trying to teach him to say simple things like ‘Hello’, ‘Goodbye’ and ‘Who’s a pretty boy, then?’
Not a word. The dumbest parrot you ever heard. I felt robbed. In anger I expressed my feelings aloud. Then it happened. I know no one believes me, but I didn’t teach him those words. I’m a committed Christian. I don’t use words like that. From his perch in the corner he poured a barrage of invective at me. He seemed to understand the rules of grammar too. If I shouted at him, ‘Silly b****g bird!’ he’d shout back, ‘Stupid bloody man!’
I know I shouldn’t have but I had to test him. I went through my limited vocabulary of foul language. I was on a hiding to nothing. I learned a lot of words from him that I should never have heard. Finally I lost the rag completely, grabbed him from his perch and strangled him.
It was only at that point that I realized I might have killed the goose that laid the golden egg!’ he remarked, rather mixing his metaphors.
Officials in Henan province confirmed that no action would be taken against Li Yong.
All of which put me in mind of the fellow who, somehow or other, managed to bring his dog with him into the cinema. A few seats behind, a friend watched in amazement as the pet reacted to the action on the silver screen, apparantly laughing at the funny parts and crying at the sad bits.
Outside afterwards, he shared his astonishment with his friend.
‘You’re surprised?’ he answered. ‘I’m amazed myself.
He absolutely hated the book!’