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Last Updated: Monday, 19 January, 2004, 22:29 GMT
Winston's obscene parrot lives on
A parrot
Charlie entertains garden centre customers with anti-Nazi tirades
Winston Churchill is best remembered for stirring speeches and cigars.

But the wartime leader also had a taste for exotic pets - one of which is still going strong.

Charlie, a blue macaw bought by Churchill two years before the outbreak of World War II, is now entertaining customers at a Surrey garden centre with obscene anti-Nazi tirades.

His owner, Peter Oram, says he believes Charlie is 104, making him the oldest parrot on record.

Mr Oram bought Charlie in 1965 for his pet shop, but was forced to take him into his own home when his constant swearing offended customers.

Bernard Matthews

Churchill apparently taught the bird to shout strings of obscenities, mostly aimed at Hitler and the Nazis.

But Charlie has won over customers at Mr Oram's Reigate garden centre, where he has lived for the past 12 years.

If truth be told, Charlie is looking a little scruffy
Sylvia Martin
"He looks a bit like a Bernard Matthews turkey nowadays, with lots of feathers missing, but he's a lovely old chap," Mr Oram told the Daily Mail.

"If truth be told, Charlie is looking a little scruffy," said Sylvia Martin, who works at the garden centre. "But he is very popular with the public. We are all very attached to him."

However, Leonard Small, who looks after Charlie, said he had become spiteful in his old age, and no longer said much.

"He's pulled many of the feathers out of his chest, but whistles away happily," he said.

Three Jocks

Mr Oram believes Charlie was born in 1899. He had already outlived two owners when Churchill acquired him in 1937.

If Charlie's age is confirmed he would be by far the oldest parrot on record. The next-oldest is a cockatoo named Cokky, who died at the age of 80.

But whether or not Charlie's provenance can be confirmed, the legacy of Churchill's love of pets lives on.

A parrot
Parrots usually live between 50 and 70 years

Before he died he asked that his home, Chartwell Manor, always keep an orange cat named Jock "in comfortable residence", in memory of a favourite cat given to him by his private secretary, Sir John Colville.

The National Trust, which now runs Chartwell Manor, has honoured his request, although Jock III has been barred from the house's main rooms.

"His claws could do a lot of damage," says Victoria Leighton, who looks after him. "We try to ensure he keeps to the garden, where he sits happily in the catmint."


SEE ALSO:
In Pictures: National Parrot Sanctuary
08 Aug 03  |  Photo Gallery
Quaker parrots invade Barcelona
28 Aug 03  |  Europe
Parrot bites fireman
12 Jun 03  |  West Midlands


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