Stoep Stories No 4

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Sunday, 4th May 2014


Published by the Graaff-Reinet Heritage Society 7 February 1999

The Foul-mouthed Parrot

As told by the late Paddy Archer

During the late Thirties, the Joubert family, DF Joubert and his wife, operated a tobacco shop from their house in Church Street next to where First National Bank now operates. There were rolls of chewing tobacco, plug tobacco, pipe tobacco and snuff, everything the nicotine addict could desire. Probably also cigars because a wonderful tobacco smell hung about the shop.

The family pet was a large parrot, able to speak a few words. In the summer months, to give the bird a little relief from the heat, the cage containing the parrot was taken to the bottom of the  long garden and hung in the cool shade of a large tree, where it spent most of its day.

The Joubert`s neighbour, unbeknown to them, had watched this procedure and decided to give the parrot a few speech lessons. He stood in his own garden close to where the parrot was, and kept repeating words to it.

The parrot absorbed all this, but his owners were totally unaware of the increase in his repertoire. Then came the day when Mrs Joubert entertained a local ladies group to tea. The ladies were interested in this exotic bird; his mistress went into the garden and brought the bird back into the parlour and encouraged it to speak. The language that poured out of the bird, happily showing off his ability, was that of sailors and soldiers and shocked the ladies and greatly embarrassed Mrs Joubert. Red-faced, she whipped the innocent bird back into the garden under the cool trees where he continued to demonstrate his vocabulary.

Apparently the neighbour confessed his part but one wonders where they subsequently kept the bird; they don’t usually forget what they have been taught!