The Cud Rant:
You Tight-Fisted, Penny Pinching Bunch Of…
Hamish Macarthur

Canaries… Listed under the word “harmless” in the Macquarie dictionary sits our friend the canary - the cheery little yellow fellows with fat, happy cheeks and shining eyes that always look like they’re about to wink at you. Cartoons and ignorance may have clouded my perception, but it’s hard to think of a better natured, dumb, jolly bird. The canary is a bird whose main purposes on this planet, it would appear, is to give lonely people a sweet salve of companionship, and provide greeting card artists with a muse that never grows old (and starts to nag).

And what of the gentle canary’s fate? What reward did we bestow upon our feline-fearing friend? Without dwelling on the whole caged bird thing (actually the standard yellow caged canary has been bred to be useless for about five hundred years, so the cage is now a survival requirement. Or at least until a canary John Connor returns from the future to give the others a few tips on besting mankind), what, I ask, did we humans do with the canary?

We took him down into mines to be the first to die – every time.

From the canary’s point of view, you could imagine the little man’s happiness at going off with the big boys to work, feeling important and more than anything, unfettered joy at being one of the gang. Whistling away as his cage swung to and fro in the hands of a giant coal hunter.

“Hi Ho! Hi Ho! It’s off to work we go!”

Then a bit later in the day, sitting in the cage hanging from a piece of wire nailed into the ceiling, the inevitable utterance, “Oh I do feel sleepy, all this hard work is making me very tired. No. Mustn’t sleep, must keep singing. I’ve got a job to do and all the lads are relying on me. How exciting! I wonder when I’ll see Chirpy, Chips and Charlie? It will be great to see what their jobs are. They’re so important now they stay down here all day and night!”

Struggling to keep his eager eyelids from drooping, alas, the canary would whisper, “How I wish I could stay awake and get to the end of this song but I just don’t think I can. Must keep singing… Must keep…”

And so he’d fall forward, tiny feet still hanging on, determined not to let his colleagues down. He’d hang upside down for a moment and then drop… as the singing stopped. The miners would take pause, noticing that the little bird had gone quiet. Then, in a sad fate, he’d be off to join Chirpy, Chips and Charlie in a better place - otherwise known as the bin. While the miners would piss off to the pub to drink twenty pints.

Farewell sweet prince.

On the other hand, maybe the canary’s early career was designed to build up a healthy account of good karma, with compound interest, in anticipation of later crimes against humanity. In particular, I’m referring to that smear on the canary’s otherwise good record known as Tweety Bird. That he may be a budgie is irrelevant, let’s not get lost in semantics. You there, with the arms and legs- you know exactly what I’m talking about. Anyway, Tweety Bird.

“I taught I taw a puddy tat.”

I taught I taw a puddy tat indeed. Smug little whoreson. We know, Tweety, that you taw a puddy tat. We also know that this is of virtually no consequence to you as you’re going to live to the end of each and every episode. That you’re somehow going to always avoid the injury that would deliver us such delicious schadenfreude. That Sylvester - despite all his efforts and unwavering, inspiring resolve – will be denied what is rightfully his. There’s no need to gloat, Tweety. It doesn’t endear you in any way. You may have been calling the shots for so long that you hadn’t noticed, or cared, but there’s an ugly arrogance in your eyebrows. And while we’re on the subject of your appearance, you look foolish. Take those ridiculous things off your feet, get a head reduction and grow some wings. It’s embarrassing being seen with you. If our mothers weren’t in a lesbian relationship I’d never hang out with you.

I imagine Tweety has received his fair share of hate mail over the years. In the endless stream of letters arriving at Warner Bros there must have been at least a small percentage dedicated to expressing their hatred of Tweety other than those many trite, glowing letters from children and hardcore polaroids from middle-aged women sprawled on couches with bags of microwave popcorn. Though I doubt his handlers would usually pass the hate mail on. The possibility of being murdered would be the last thing Tweety’s manager could want him to think about when he’s reclining in the star room, powdering his cheeks and trilling up and down high scales before going on the set.

I received a hate mail letter once, (as a result of a Cud article, no less) though it wasn’t really hate mail as I imagined hate mail would be. It was more a precursor to serious hate mail and went along the lines of “We know what you’re up to and you are wrong. We know the truth and are watching you”. This turned out to be spookier than a simple and more standard:

You are going to die – soon. By my hand. And I will take my time… Actually, I don’t want to confuse you by saying two contradictory things, but what I meant to say is that I am going to kill you soon, and I’ll do it slowly, not that I mean I’ll take my time in getting around to killing you... If you’re confused I can clear up any questions you might have when I inevitably come for you. In the middle of the night. Soon. Slowly… On second thought I think it’ll be easier on both of us if I just shoot you in the head in the not too distant future.

Zorro – the Cowardly Lion

With a hate mail note like that you know exactly where you stand… more or less. And you know to put your head down and get the fuck out of dodge post haste. But with a precursor to a hate mail letter you don’t really know what your situation is. Should you move on to a slightly altered path, toning things down a bit in the hope that “they” will soon think you got the message and take you off potential murder-watch? Or do you keep typing whatever comes into your drunken mind without a care in the world until you realise that your ramblings make no sense whatsoever and someone might be coming to kill you?

My solution to the problem of someone wishing me ill was to turn my brain off completely and simply forget about it. And what better way to do that than with television, the drug of the fuck-witted? It worked superbly as a tool to dull thought and stop me thinking that someone was watching me in the shower, but I’m still recovering from the experiment. On second thought, reading back through this piece it’s impossible to avoid the conclusion that the recovery hasn’t begun at all. What was meant to be a piece on my former employers rapidly digressed (between heading and first paragraph) into something about canaries and on from there in similarly logical fashion.

But the topic of television will have to wait until next time. It’s too mind-bogglingly shit and infuriating for me to adequately address it in the space I have left on this page.  Plus, there’s a street outside my window in urgent need of a naked, ranting man.

Until we meet again, stay alive without the assistance of the Bee Gees.