The Human Parrot

Dear Boot-Lovers,

It seems no time at all since I last addressed you and your questions and concerns about the female boot which appears, by the volume and nature of correspondence, to be in very good health and in this wintry season to be multiplying spec- tacularly in numbers, so that on occasion on the street corner, dressed beneath an umbrella in my favourite rubber raincoat, I feel myself to be moved, even overwhelmed, by the promiscuous display of polished leather and heels that greets my disbelieving eye

. With a happy and restorative tap of riding-crop against new boot, and a confirming glance at my tight-waisted and stiletto-booted reflection, stretched out and rippling below the curb-stone in the neon light, I then proceed to cross over to the other side, untouched by the spray of the screeching car. I am met by so many haughty, disdaining faces that I believe I have been transported to the set of some musical, where the harmony of clicking heels has replaced the usual composition. I walk on through the dancing, rain-soaked crowd, through the rehearsal of strutting boot and swirling cape, past the shop-window of artificially splashed rain- and foot-wear, up the steps and into the offices of Heel! magazine, where I discover the letters, heart-felt and sometimes over-enthusiastic, left on my desk by you, the boot-lover and captive reader.

You may have guessed that the procreation of the boot and therefore of the boot-slave is the subject foremost in my mind at this time. Let me, therefore, metaphorically speaking, if not in fact, sweep under the carpet, under the twin heels of my own boots, those missives that have failed to register a polite and appropriate level of interest in the topic chosen by your agony aunt and upon which she wishes briefly to dwell.

Let us progress without further ado, to this matter of growing importance and relevance in the life of the modern woman, but with first a grateful acknowledgement to the mistress who has written with such concern to ask about the well-being of my caged bird that sings from beyond my ink- well with a parrot's capacity to mimic the human voice. He is indeed in excellent spirits and has, since her last asking, exceeded by his range even that of the much praised bird, by his convincing and everpresent portrayal also of the manners and kneeling appearance of the boot-slave, so that when the little door is open and I insert some generous portion of seed and nuts within my tight-fisted leather glove, no sign of winged flight or confused flapping is discernible, merely the preservation of that posture which resembles more the demeanour of the trained circus animal that leaps through rings.

For that reason, and to add novelty to the idea, I have attached a silver necklace above his shivering body that with its leash includes, with the door unlocked, the distance to the ink-well, which he fills when my attention is diverted with my replying to your letters, and to the leatherbound sheets of blotting-paper, from which, I believe, he silently and slowly tears manageable pieces with which to follow at a safe and undetected pace, my writing nib.

Was he long ago the gift of a satisfied reader, or did he provide his service freely, of his own accord and volition, if a slave can be said to possess the gift of his slavery, which in truth is recognized in him by the predatory female and wrested from him for her purpose? The leather drape sent in by this mistress with the offer of some privacy for the bird and intended by the detail of her letter to be placed over the cage at the time of my quitting the office for the torrential rains outside, has I am sure, though changes of expression are hard to distinguish in the inclined face and the stiffness of limbs beside his kneeling form . . . been a compassionate and pleasantly scented contribution to office life. The ankle-cuffs, too, have proved after the prolonged and awkward time had by the manicured nails of my staff in their attachment, another success for which I, who have been required by fate to handle the advance of his training and discipline, remain indebted; only his singing has ceased and that at the acceptable price of his improved performance around the desk. How sad that the miniature key has, we are told, no duplicate; for the original here has quite disappeared.

Suffice it to say that as this mistress might have supposed, we have not just the single song-bird who refuses, it seems, to sing; but an entire aviary with which we must contend daily. It is not the binding of the beak, but the resignation to captivity that is in each case the cause of that cessation of complaint and chattering by the clipped bird, and their sub- stitution by his unconvincing repetition from the now limited repertoire of the single word, `Heel!'.

Only by the improvement of diction, the result of his confinement within our offices, does the prospect of his release become at length a serious and realistic possibility, and later the anticipated reality; not of course by the bird who has relinquished all such desire for his reintroduction into the wild, and will resist by attempted pecking the grasping, pro- tected hand that finally enters his cage to return to him that once treasured and often championed freedom.

The human parrot, so transformed in our presence, will when challenged on the affairs of politics or some matter of etiquette, in a public place, respond decisively and repetitively with his practised restatement of the exclamation, `Heel!'. Such advertising is their invaluable and continuing contribution to our magazine. We have merely provided this closed and feminine environment, and then a selection of rubber clothing, for their eventual and empty-headed mimicking of the predatory female. I fear that I have been distracted from my intended subject by the mistress' concern for the human parrot. I will no doubt be referring in a subsequent issue of Heel! to the procreation of the female boot and the necessary increase in the population of its counterpart, the boot-slave.

Madame X

As many of our readers will already know from her personal replies to their letters, Madame X has kindly agreed to her appointment as the agony aunt of Heel! magazine. Do send your experiences and inquiries directly to her at our Paris address.

The Editress.