DOES anyone have a recipe for parrot pie?
It could be useful, Barcelona is coming down with the little green menaces . . . at times you can hardly hear yourself think for them.
To be precise, they are Monk Parakeets, also known as the Quaker Parrots, and they are the smaller and more belligerent cousins of the pirates’ colourful companions, but the noise they can make belies their stature.
Flocks of the little green critters are to be found all over Barcelona. Usually they sit in high palm trees, angrily squawking away at people, at other birds, or just for the sake of squawking. The important thing is that they are constantly squawking, and that parakeet squawking is a loud and unpleasant noise.
Other birds have learnt the hard way to leave the parakeets alone; they may look like clowns, but they fight like little mobsters.
Recently there was a turf war between the parakeets and the magpies in my street, and it was a noisy and bloody affair. The battle was decisive and magpies are a very rare sight in these parts nowadays!
Occasionally the parakeets slum it and come down to ground level to scavenge for scraps and crumbs from the tourists. When they do so they are vastly outnumbered by the pigeons, so tend to be on their best behaviour, or perhaps they are just playing cute to solicit snacks.
So if you ever come across parakeet at your feet, eyeing up your ice cream cone, do not be fooled, the cuteness is all an act.
They do, however, put on impressive flying displays, forming little V-shaped squadrons that zoom down the streets just above head height, squawking as they go.
They are not, as might be generally supposed, blow-ins from across the Mediterranean, but are probably originated from escaped pet birds and have gone feral and established a sustainable population.
Apparently they make good pets, but why anyone would want to share a house with one of the noisy little blighters beats me.
Perhaps the squawking will become less intrusive now that the city is coming back to life. In August, outside of the tourist hotspots, Barcelona becomes a virtual ghost town as everyone goes to the beach, and not the beach in Barcelona, but further north on the Costa Brava where people own or rent holiday homes. The clannish Catalans rarely venture beyond the provincial borders of Catalunya.
Left your suit into the dry cleaner in the last week of July? Well forget about seeing it until September. Need something fixed? Fat chance. Want to get a bus? Be prepared to wait for a very long time.
Contractors will not respond to enquiries and even some restaurants and specialist shops and services skedaddle until September.
The August exodus goes back to the days before air-conditioning when it was just too hot to do anything, though Barcelona does not quite reach the scorching temperatures of inland Spain. Nowadays it is just seen as a Spanish right, and one of the few times that Catalans are happy to embrace Spanish tradition, to close up the country’s businesses for the month.
Remind me again, just why is Spain’s economy in the mess it is today? And just why should the German taxpayer have to pay to rescue the Spanish economy while the Spanish take the month off?