Nigel, The Talking British Parrot Who Now Only Speaks Spanish

Sometimes you’ve just got to laugh. Out loud preferably. The way the world is lately, we are crying out for it.

Sorry for the mixed metaphor. But I’m sure you get the idea.

Hopefully what I’m about to tell you, will give you a good laugh.

A pet parrot called Nigel, which previously only ever spoke English with a British accent, when he disappeared from his home four years ago, has been reunited with his owner.

That’s the good news.

Here’s the bad news. The bird now only speaks Spanish.

The touching reunion, between owner and pet, was orchestrated by a Southern Californian veterinarian, who initially mistook Nigel, an African gray parrot, for her own missing bird.

Nigel was micro-chipped as most animals are these days.

Veterinarian, Teresa Micco, tracked Nigel’s microchip to Darren Chick (believe it or not that is his real name) a British man living in Torrance, California.

Teresa takes up the story saying that when she introduced herself and said to Chick, have you lost a bird? He initially said no, but he thought she meant had he lost a bird recently. Nigel disappeared four years ago.

Teresa, the Vet, to her credit, persisted. She’d verified Chick’s name as the registered owner. She then told him she’d found his missing African grey parrot. Of course Chick thought he was dealing with a crazy woman. How could she have found his pet parrot when it’s been missing for four years?

Little is known about Nigel’s whereabouts for the past four years but how he talks now, as in the language he uses, could be a fairly substantial clue.

Chick says the bird’s British accent is gone, and it now chatters away in fluent Spanish. Unfortunately Chick doesn’t speak Spanish so it’s not like he can ask Nigel about what was happening for the past four years. In any case, Chick said the reunion brought tears of joy to his eyes – despite the fact that Nigel bit him when he first tried to pick him up. How quickly they forget.

Teresa, the Vet, who knows a lot about animal behavior, said Nigel’s recalcitrant attitude was not unusual and he would soon settle back to his old self.

“He’s doing perfect,” Chick, (who also seems to have also lost his British accent), told the local newspaper. “It’s really weird. I knew it was him from the minute I saw him.”

There is a small, cruel irony in this story with the happy ending. Teresa, the Vet, has been running ads over the past ten months for her own missing parrot, Benjamin, who flew the coop in February by darting through an open door.

She’s managed to reunite five other missing parrots with their owners, but no luck in locating Benjamin. How Nigel ended up with Teresa, the Vet, is a mission in its self. A woman called Julissa Sperling, managed to catch Nigel, outside her house, and brought him to Teresa, after seeing one of her ads. But first, she took Nigel to her dog-grooming business. It was like mana from heaven for an animal that likes to copy sounds.

“He was the happiest bird. He was singing and talking without control,” Sperling said. “He was barking like the dogs. I’m from Panama, and he was saying, What happened? In Spanish.”

What happened indeed. Sadly, Julissa didn’t bother asking Nigel, in Spanish of course. Hopefully someone will. He just might tell them. I am sure it will make for one hell of a story.

American Justice On Trial

The American justice system has taken a hammering in the past 24 hours. And so it should.

First we had the case of a man freed from jail after 39 years who was wrongly convicted of murder.

What’s worse his original sentence was to receive the death penalty. But lucky for him, Ohio, the state, where it happened, abolished the death penalty three years after he was convicted.

So even though he spent all of that time in prison, he was able to walk free and breathe fresh air in the outside world again. If the State had not changed the law he would be dead right now. And the system would have killed an innocent man.

And now we have the case of a woman in California freed from prison after 17 years because she was wrongly convicted of murder. This is yet another example, of the justice system getting it terribly, terribly wrong.

Fifty-nine-year-old Susan Mellen was convicted of beating a homeless man to death. Now a court has found she was innocent.

An appeal judge ruled that Mellen received what he called poor legal representation from her trial lawyer.

Apparently her conviction rested on the testimony of a witness who claimed she heard Mellen confess to the crime. But that witness has now been described as an habitual liar.

WTF?

The appeal judge told Mellen that he “felt really bad about what had happened to her.”

So he should.

So should the entire Californian justice system. They should hang their heads in shame. They are entirely to blame for what happened.

Luckily for Susan Mellen, her case was taken up by an organisation called Innocence Matters, which seeks to exonerate the wrongly convicted.

Innocence Matters said in a statement that the detective, who arrested Mellen, was also responsible for a case in 1994 that resulted in two people later being exonerated.

Three gang members were linked to the crime that Mellen was convicted for. One of them took a lie-detector test and said Mellen wasn’t there when it happened.

There is probably not a lot to make of this revelation other than to say it is yet another point in Mellen’s favour.

The court made an interesting legal ruling when it freed Susan Mellen.

It decided that she was factually innocent in this case.

Factually innocent is a ruling made only in rare circumstances but it means Susan Mellen can claim US$100 a day, from the State of California, for every day that she spent in prison.

After 17 years it adds up to a tidy sum, more than $600,000 which, I am sure, will be a huge help to Susan Mellen as she faces life on the outside.

Mellen said she cried every night in prison but never lost faith that she would be reunited with her three now-grown up children.

Her youngest were aged seven and nine when she was arrested. They have a lot of catching up to do.

Mellen scrawled the word “freedom” on the bottom of her shoes because she never gave up hope she would be free one day.

Try as I might, I can find nothing redeeming about the fact that it took 17 years for justice to finally be done for Suan Mellen.

Unfortunately, the system can’t give her back the very thing that she is most entitled to.

The life she lost.

Not So Happy Kingdom

When I was a kid, growing up, there was one place in the world where I wanted to go. It was called Disneyland. Most kids do. It’s a place built for kids and named after a man who probably remained a kid all his life or had the imagination of one. Of course I didn’t get to go there until I was an adult but what’s a few decades between friends?

The sign at the front entrance said it all for me: welcome to the happiest place on earth. No harm in that. We all need to dream. But you know what? I kind of believed it and have done every since, until I read something the other day. The kind of something called a big, fat reality check that takes hold of your naivety and tosses it back in your face. The kind of reality check that makes you feel as sad as the kid who hears the shattering news that there’s no such thing as Santa Claus.

The story was called the shocking facts about the happiest place on earth. Talk about shattering. Behind the smiles and screams of joy at Disneyland a truly darker side might be lurking that most of us, apparently didn’t know about. And, if that wasn’t bad enough, the story went on to list the most surprising and horrifying things that have occurred at Disney theme parks. These incidents could in no way be described as Mickey Mouse. I’m talking deaths and serious injuries. But be warned. Your perception of a Disneyland ride might be changed forever.

In July 2014 a British tourist lost two fingertips after dangling his hand outside the boat on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disney World in Florida. Three months earlier, a 12-year-old boy badly lacerated four fingers on the same ride.

In 2103, a woman died from complications after fracturing her leg while trying to board the Jungle Cruise in Orlando. Her family has filed a lawsuit against Disney claiming her death could have been avoided if staff had attempted to help her to board.

There have been other deaths. A cleaner was killed while working on a boat in the It’s A Small World attraction at Disneyland Paris, a stunt performer was killed while practicing a tumble roll for the Indian Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular in Florida, a Disney worker dressed as Pluto was run over and killed during a Disney parade would you believe? There was even a fatal incident involving my favorite ride the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad roller coaster. A wheel assembly fell off, landing on top of another car, killing one person and injuring ten others.

There was the case of a man dressed like Donald Duck who is alleged to have sexually assaulted a woman at Disneyland. And the Splash Mountain ride should actually be renamed Flash Mountain because of the numbers of young women who bare their breasts to the cameras that are supposed to snap the frightened expressions of ride patrons. The list goes on. I am certainly not trying to point the finger of blame in any way at anyone. I am just truly sad.

I also learned that Disneyland’s Haunted House might very well be truly haunted. Park patrons are in the habit of scattering the ashes of loved ones during the ride. Former Disney employee David Koenig wrote about in his book, Mouse Tales. A tourist group was thrown out of the park after they were caught sprinkling the ashes of a seven-year-old boy. You might be pleased to know the ride was quickly shut down for cleaning.

And once the sun goes down, California’s Disneyland, becomes overrun by feral cats. Park officials encourage them because it keeps the rodent population under control.

Actor Tom Hanks tells a great story about his Disneyland experience when he was playing the role of the great man himself in the movie, Saving Mr Banks. There used to be sky buckets that park patrons caught in Tomorrowland that travelled to Fantasyland through the heart of the Matterhorn. The trip only took four a half minutes but it had to be shut down because people were trying to join the Sky High Club shall we say.

Now some of you might also have inside knowledge that questions the existence of the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy. And I must admit I’ve heard rumors too. But I would ask that you keep it to yourself for now. Quite frankly, after all of this business with Disneyland, I’m just not ready to deal with it.