A century of parrots

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Insignis, 2006 - Pets - 290 pages
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I refer to the Chapter in the book on 'Blue Boy' the macaw who was a pet bird at Tredegar House, Newport in the 1930s, owned by Evan Morgan, Viscount Tredegar. H G Wells was a regular visitor to Tredegar House. The master of science fiction arranged his engagements in South Wales around Evan Morgan’s weekend and lavish house parties. Situated near Newport, Tredegar House, seat of the Morgan family, the last Viscount Tredegar Evan Frederic Morgan ( 1893-1949) was an eccentric and a homosexual. He gathered around him for amusement a menagerie of pets, exotic and human. The house parties at Tredegar House involved dozen of guests, Evan invited many personalities of the 1930s, of which H G Wells was one. It was an ideal retreat from the London scene, Evan’s mixed his guests to enable all kinds of close encounters between them. In this book Wells is swept into the mass fiction of the coverage given to Evan’s familiar ‘Blue Boy’ “ … a Hyacinthine Macaw….. one of the most notorious parrots of the 20th century” . The quote of “ H G Wells was once pecked by Blue Boy, and claimed that he could never " gratify that damn bird” . There’s no corroborate evidence to trace this remark elsewhere. It does not come to the surface in Wells’ memoirs or otherwise. It looks like a case of pure invention manufactured in Tredegar House, of course unless an exact source can be put up. Time’s up! I rather think not!
There are documented sources on how some guests were used and abused by 'Blue Boy' but in some cases these suggest ‘Blue Boy’s’ position in the ranking of notorious is a little exaggerated. He was talented, he could imitate human coughing, and had a certain vocabulary, and one servant’s memoir does mention him ‘swearing like a trooper’. But he had a viscous side too and Christopher Jones's well known photograph of Evan and ' Blue Boy' that appears in many places clearly shows people looking in fear at Blue Boy on Evan's shoulder probably has more to do with just that, i.e. their fear of a bird's actions rather than the bird ranting or swearing.
The author should have included more concrete references to 'Blue Boy' . For instance the literary critic Alan Pryce- Jones records in his memoir “ The Bonus of Laughter”: “ [ Evan ]…….. allowed himself to be teased by a formidable macaw named Blue Boy, which liked to bestow hammer blows at great speed between his toes, bare in the bathroom.” Daphne Fielding writes in her memoirs that " Evan's familiar was a vicious macaw that took women's jewels and dropped them in the huge logfires at Tredegar Park." These can be believed but where a reference to the tale being provided by insiders at Tredegar House, their mischief must be challenged and expunged.
There are other authenticated memories of ‘ Blue Boy’. One from “Memories “ by Julian Huxley, who was involved in the management of London Zoo. “ One of Evan's pet macaws was using my leg as a ladder for claws and beak, to climb up to the sofa. Evan had a predilection for exotic creatures.....
The tainted references that are absurd and inaccurate include the ridiculous, riotous repeated rot 'of one of Evan’s party tricks being to “ let a parrot crawl up his trouser-leggings and then peep out from his fly buttons.” This spin was created in the early 1990s when Tredegar House guides ran amok with untruths about members of the Morgan family in order to spice up tours. The public have fallen for these fibs. It’s a pity so many good authors have fallen for them too and are constantly duped by the inventors of tales from Tredegar House. The authors have not bothered to check and authenticated the stories, a key element of the con trick. The present custodians of Tredegar House are the National Trust. They are concerned about the old myths of the Morgans and in particular the invented ones and have a myth busting plan



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