A few comments I made on a Smorgasbord afternoon video that D.G Kaye shared suddenly reminded me of Bombhead, the dear little green budgie that was part of our family when I was a child.  He really was the most entertaining pet, largely due to a couple of traits that I’ve mentioned below (by the way he was identical to the featured image, and Bombhead was usually pronounced in our East London accent – Bom’ed).

Bombhead was very talkative.  Dad would sit the bird on the end of his finger, look into his beady eyes, and patiently spend much time teaching him to swear.  Bombhead ended up cursing like the proverbial trooper, but of course Dad only did this when my mother wasn’t listening.  The fruits of Dad’s labours would surface when we had visitors and the noise level rose.  Bombhead was very adept at stopping any conversation with his colourful language.  People tended to listen to what the bird would come out with next.  He could say ‘s**t‘ with true feeling in his high budgie voice, amongst several other words which to Mum’s embarrassment Bombhead would utter most emphatically in polite company.  Dad would usually get a rollicking when the visitors had gone.

Mum hated to see Bombhead cooped up, and took his cage door away so that he could come and go as he pleased.  Bombhead flew around the house to his heart’s content, which always alarmed my grandmother when she came to visit. She hated that bird.  Flapping wings would cause her arms to flail about above her head, and Bombhead seemed to sense her antagonism and flapped and dived bombed all the more.  Prim and proper, she ignored his swearing as best she could.

Bombhead would sit on my shoulder and nuzzle his beak into my neck, or wrap his warm little feet around my finger.  He’d sigh sometimes and say ‘I’m fed up‘, or ‘Where’s the beer?’  I’d stroke his feathery chest and try to teach him more appropriate words in case the vicar ever came to tea.

Unfortunately Bombhead came to a sticky end.  We had a tall standard lamp in one corner of the room with a fringed lampshade.  One morning in early 1969 Mum found Bombhead in rigor mortis hanging with his head caught in one of the lamp’s fringes.  Life just wasn’t the same without him.

At school aged 11 I thought long and hard about what to write for an inter-schools’ writing competition.   I wrote from the heart about our lovely little Bom’ed and I won the competition, which delighted me no end and was the encouragement I needed to carry on with a lifetime of writing.  Wherever Bombhead is now I hope he’s still flying free and cursing enough to make a sailor blush.

Another memory surfaces… I inherited the title of Bom’ed from that bird, as Dad would often liken my thick curly hair to a bomb that had just gone off.