Parrots, Pirates and Massive Trucks

Best shorts at the ready these last few weeks. It’s been a month of talking. Not your normal, run of the mill daily wittering, more climbing up on my box and ranting about rabies. As you do. There has also been the landmark moment that I became a trucker so watch out if you see a big yellow 27tonne lorry on the roads. The man behind the wheel is still trying to find 5th gear.

No messing about with the talking though – first up was India, at the Dogs Trust International Animal Welfare Conference in Chennai. Long flight to get the presentation down to pat then off I went. Not entirely sure what the World Health Organization representative thought about the plan to import a huge truck into India as a means to conquer rabies, doesn’t make sense to everyone I suppose, but the hotel staff liked the idea. Got two towels folded as swans on my bed the next morning – apparently they couldn’t do trucks.

Then there were a couple of lectures at the British Small Animal Veterinary Association Congress to give. It’s a big conference – probably the second biggest annual vet conference in the world. They had a wild card this year and I was clearly it, but at least I had the said truck on hand so whilst I might have droned on, everyone likes the chance to clamber over a huge truck and sound the horn – job done.

The real pressure performance was much closer to home. Noah and Sheba’s school. Forget questions about the 2006 paper on in vitro challenge to L.infantum with marbofloxacin – let’s discuss how many parrots live in Senegal. And not just parrots – throw some pirate questions into the mix and I am on my knees.

I was asked if I could produce a parrot for the children to see. Not just any parrot, it was hastily explained, it had to be a parrot from a pirate ship. Luckily, my practice manager, the ever reliable and ultra resourceful Lulu, had such a parrot. Sideways Sid who had been rescued from Captain Danger Flint by the plucky cabin boy Seaweed Sam had been brought to England where he was rehomed with Lulu. Or so I tried to earnestly explain to three classes of children in turn ranging from 7 to 3 years in age. No fools in that lot. The only person walking the plank in that classroom was talking like one.

Pressure was on– whilst Sideways Sid took it in his stride – I had to field serious questions from my audience. How fast does Sideways Sid? What colour was his tongue and what is the height of worlds tallest parrot? No quarter given and they kept coming. Luckily Sid was supremely well behaved and provided ample distraction for an in depth discussion about why pirates perched parrots on their shoulders which skirted most of the mastermind like grilling.

I could have done with Sid on my HGV driving course, nothing escaped his notice, less could be said about my ability to avoid kerbs, red lights and one singularly large wing mirror (just a clip…).

The excellent driving team at A1 roadcraft rapidly decided that 3 intensive days would require all hands to the deck so I had 4 different instructors trying to get me into shape and hold it together for the fateful test. Sean, a firefighter as well as a senior instructor with the firm took the helm for most of it. Sean is a patient man. Putting out fires arguably an easier challenge than sitting next to me careering around Salisbury’s innumerate roundabouts crunching gears – but he managed it and I am now officially a trucker.

Not only that, I am a trucker who is fixated about rabies and wants a parrot on his shoulder. Desperate times indeed.