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Pug and Parrot

My father was never happier than when he was tinkering around in the bilges. MY Alida had twin Perkins Dolphin engines. Big things; it was a big boat.

You knew when we were in trouble when he started whistling.

Eyebrows were raised, and we moved quietly to the pub leaving my father cursing, whistling and having a ball.

Pug and parrot

You can just about see his cage through the wheelhouse on the foredeck

On our return the words , ‘bloody parrot seed and dog hair’ would explain everything. A large Scotch restored my father’s equilibrium. Bertie, the African grey parrot, was a vicious thug.

He always came on the boat, hence the parrot seed in the engines.

I first met Bertie age 5 I suppose, and was warned not to touch. I didn't need warning I saw the bloody mess he had made of a woman's finger. Nasty. But Bertie adored my father and Hugh, my father's boss, his owner, and Bertie was a seasoned sailor.

He had belonged to a photographer who had trained him to say ‘read The Daily Mirror’. This phrase would be his life saver. Fluent in Siamese Cat, telephone rings, wine pouring, and the usual swearing, he was a huge part of our sailing lives.

Pug and Parrot


George was the pug that caused the dog hair. A fat elderly sausage roll of a woofer. Another seasoned sailor. George belonged to Fling, a lovely lady, and mother to Hugh’s wife, Jodie. Fling had spent time in Chicago and had a great conversation stopper:

Al Capone Pug article CS

Al Capone

‘The only reason Jodie was born safely, was that I lost at cards to Al Capone’. True.

I really felt for her one day. For once we were on the Thames near Oxford, when she fell out of the dinghy. She was wet but fine. George had climbed onto her head. It was very funny.

Two boys were on the towpath and shouted, ‘look dad, there's an old woman with a dog on her head’. She just looked at us. None of us dared move. Poor Fling.

We were usually based at Hamble and I loved mooching in the chandlery. If you met an elderly black labrador at the entrance, you knew to let him in. He was there for his daily pork pie. He belonged to Robin Knox Johnson the round the world sailor. Great memory.

In 2005 Bertie, the parrot, died. She had laid an egg probably in her 70s. Proving that Bertie was a Beatrice and why she loved mean, but took all women as competition. We never knew!

Meet The Author...
Carolyn Soutar
Who Am I?

A born and bred Londoner happily settled in the beautiful Scarborough. I love music. Since I was 6 , when I started to learn the piano, this love has stayed with me.

At 3.a.m. when you just have to write, then music is the key. Along with the inevitable writer's cats, 2, who allow me to use my computer, the desk, the flat. You know.

My background is in theatre. I started in opera at the ENO, as a lowly Assistant Stage Manager. What a dream. Serenaded at 10.30 each morning by world class singers 8 years later I diverted to straight theatre, and worked with Peter O'Toole, Alan Bates, Janet Suzman, and a long list of amazing people. In 1981, I was given the chance to Stage Manage the Rudolf Nureyev seasons. It was a roller coaster of 5 years of ballet with Rudi. Dave Allen was a completely unexpected opportunity. This followed two tours with Peter O'Toole. I am and was star struck. I don't believe that any of us old theatre folk lose the ability to feel very nervous in front of a dressing room door containing one of our heroes.

I am very proud to have an event for the National Trust on my resume. It was for their centenary at West Wycombe, and it was, "The Battle of Trafalgar". I wrote and directed this, and felt very privileged that I was the first person to be commissioned to create an event for them. This was 1995. More events followed, then in 2004 either I had had enough of events or they of me, and writing called. I have been lucky enough to attend the Edinburgh International Literature Festival and a book signing in Cannes, France, and many others.

I have written two biographies. My motivation Mr de Mille? I knew them, worked with them, and though not by any means an academic Biographer, I knew I had a lot of insight to offer. Maybe the next one will be backstage tales, and there are a few of them. Hollywood starlets who cannot cope with 150 year old London dressing rooms, to wannabees who can't go on because their nail polish wasn't dry. I wonder how many volumes?

But my work in progress has to come next. It is my biography on Peter O'Toole, 'Hell Raiser', maybe. So many ideas, so many dreams.,/p>

So love of reading has to come next, or equally. How can you write without reading?

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