Gizmo the famous parrot

behind every great man …………..

The saying goes “Behind every great man is a great woman”, except in my case; the saying should say “Supporting every great man is a great woman”. Strange though this might sound coming from a female, but I do know my place and that is as my wonderful Blue and Gold Macaw Gizmo’s mobile perch! Not that I mind being his form of transport, unpaid Taxi driver, PR, Admin Assistant and any other general factotum that he may require, because he is an exceptional Parrot, a joy to be owned by and a marvelous Ambassador for the Avian world. Although sometimes life as his assistant can be quite hectic as has just been the case over the last couple of weeks!

Test Your Pet.

Those of you, who watch animal orientated TV programs, will no doubt have watched BBC “Test Your Pet”, a documentary that tested the nation and their pets to discover which animal was the cleverest pet. Well yes, Gizmo was invited, along with my Green wings, Sir Morris and Lady Cluck, Squeaky Sid my Galah and my little baby Meyer, named Izzy -Wizzy. We were scheduled to make two programs, one for the Adult viewers that appeared on Saturday May 8th and one for CBBC on Friday May 7th 2004.
We journeyed down to London on Thursday May 6th arriving at the BBC studios for 9.30am and the start of rehearsals. There we met other people with their pet cats, dogs, rabbits, horses and the stars of the show, Rolf Harris and Kate Humble. That is when the fun started!
The parrots were fascinated by the cameras, lights and all the people who were involved in the show. Squeaky Sid, kept Steve my husband on his toes, by continually “escaping” and causing havoc, with camera and sound engineers who were constantly having to leap over a pink and grey mischievous parrot who insisted in running around, squealing in delight, getting tangled up in the studio floor wiring and shouting “I’m on a mission”! Eventually we decided partly for Sid’s safety and partly for the Studio staff’s sanity that Sid had to be confined to his carrier!
Cluck and Morris on the other hand, were totally laid back and achieved relative peace simply by grinding their enormous beaks and giving everyone within 3 feet, their famous forbidding stare. (Little did people realize that Morris in particular has turned into a real pussy cat!). As for Izzy-Wizzy well when things got too much for him, he simply climbed onto his deck chair and went to sleep.
We eventually achieved a degree of finite production and the live audience was admitted at 7.00pm. The program was recorded, with the audiences help, but for those of good hearing, the cries of Morris and Cluck saying “Alright and Hello” could be heard. Gizmo as usual was his impeccable self, taking everything in his stride and being a complete Casanova with Kate Humble, by insisting on kissing her at regular intervals! We eventually left the studios at 10.00pm. Thank goodness the BBC provided us with our own dressing room, where I could retire every now and then to retain my sanity! One small detail, I had to go into make-up before the actual recording and when the program went out, the make-up girls had done such a wonderful job, that a friend of mine did not recognize me!
We were booked into the Novotel hotel and finally arrived there, having got lost, at 10.30pm. Imagine booking in with 5 Parrots and 2 very tired, dirty, and covered in parrot poo guests! The staff at the hotel was marvelous; they never turned a hair and politely showed us to our rooms. The parrots were hungry and thankfully tired. We all fell into bed and dropped off to sleep with Cluck and Morris whispering “Like it, like it” and me asking myself “Why do I do this?”
The CBBC program was with Michaela Strachen, James Martin the chef, Nick Baker and Colette the animal behaviorist. This turned out to be a really fun affair. Steve Thompson and his dog plus several children joined us in the studios and everyone got along really well until the chef began cooking for the parrots. Gizmo suddenly took an interest and decided to help James to produce the parrot food! He tried to help James and was more than keen to try the recipes that the Chef had concocted! Squeaky Sid during rehearsals, played his part really well, but when we went live, he decided to run off the set, leaving Michaela and I temporarily lost for words, thank goodness Izzy-Wizzy stayed put and came to the rescue. As for his lordship, Gizmo well what can I say? Michaela and Gizmo made friends right from the start. All he wanted to do was to kiss her at every opportunity! He certainly has an eye for the beautiful women!
We arrived home at 8.00pm, tired exhausted but pleased that we had made a contribution to a wonderful program. We put the parrots to bed and the last thing that we heard was Gizmo whispering “Michaela” and Morris saying “Like it, like it!”
Suffice to say that we have been invited back for another future series!

World Parrot Day.

Then we were invited to the really big event, The World Parrot Trust “World Parrot Day” held on Bank Holiday Monday, May1st 2004. We had been invited to accompany several members of the “World Parrot Trust” on their trip to London, to present a 32,000 strong petition calling for a ban on the importation of wild caught parrots, to Tony Blair, the Prime Minister, at No 10 Downing Street. In attendance were, Mike Reynolds the Chairman of the Trust, Alan Jones, one of the top UK Avian Vets, Quentin Blake, the children’s Poet Lariat plus Nigella, a wild caught parrot and several friends of the WPT. We took Sir Morris, Lady Cluck, Gizmo and Izzy-Wizzy
There was a specially chartered London tour bus, which we all rode on through the centre of London. Gizmo and Steve, Morris, Cluck, Izzy-Wizzy, myself, Sue Smedley, Graham Reeve and Norma Hickman, 3 friends of mine, plus other supporters amongst whom was Ginaro, the world renowned chef and several pet parrots plus their owners, also accompanied us. I was amazed at how many people recognized Gizmo, TV camera crews followed the bus and people from all walks of life and all nationalities supported us in our mission. We eventually arrived at Trafalgar Square, where an estimated 1500 people were gathered, including members of the world press. The bus parked and we took the parrots out to meet everyone. Gizmo accompanied Quentin Blake and Cluck and Morris once again achieved the ultimate in parrot psychology by commandeering the cameras! Morris even grabbed a small banner that read “Born to be Wild” and refused to let go, needless to say, this picture eventually appeared on most world wide media web sites, and appeared in the world’s press which resulted in Cluck and Morris appearing on the front page of the Guardian!

As for Gizmo, well he proved to be the star of the day.

He actually accompanied Quentin Blake and jointly presented the petition to the door of No. 10 Downing Street! He was embarrassed however, when the world press caught me, his “Mum” weeping uncontrollably as he re-emerged through the gates of No 10. (Well I was so proud of him!!)
On top of which, several children were holding banners that proclaimed “Gizmo says extinction sucks!”
After all, Gizmo was the voice of all those poor parrots that are ripped from their natural environment because of the greed of man. On the day, he was their voice; he was their chance of having their say.
I just hope that our contribution to World |Parrot Day helps us to encourage the government to introduce a ban on the import of wild caught parrots.
The US has banned this barbaric practice.
Let us hope that our government shows the same degree of courage.

Since these events, Gizmo has been in great demand, to appear at events,
Open shows, accompany me on talks and make guest appearances. He has been depicted on TV, made several newspapers appearances and been booked for future guest appearances.
All I have to do is to control the tears, tears of pride, tears of joy, tears of love for a man bird, beneath which is a proud and emotion woman who loves him more than words could ever say and who is more than content to be his ”Mobile perch!”
After all, as the saying goes,

“Behind every great man is a ……………..

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