Picture it and write: Peacock Inc
Hello there, this is my contribution for this weeks Picture it and write from Ermilia’s blog here. Once again, the picture is not mine, I simply use it for inspiration. Anyway, Enjoy!
Like everybody else who knew my cousin Ken, I suppose I was not that surprised when he announced that he was going to start breeding peacocks. Much like the emus, the wild boar, and the deer farming ventures that Ken had tried before on Grandma’s old farm, this just looked like another get rich quick scheme, something that was again going to need just a little bit of money from us, his quickly tiring family, to succeed. Peacocks though, I don’t think anyone could say where he was going to make any money on this one. Not unless people had suddenly developed a taste for roast peacock or the peacock feathers were just too expensive from abroad and a domestic model was what the people where asking for. We all figured that we would just have to wait for Ken to get in touch with us about his grand scheme.
Rest assured within a few months we all received smartly wrapped packages labelled with the logo for ‘Peacock Inc’. Ken may have missed Christmases, birthdays, and at least two family funerals but rest assured when he is asking for money, his family is always at the top of the list. Inside was a form letter addressed to ‘Valued potential investor’ telling about a ‘exciting, game changing development’ and instructions to play an enclosed video. Pretty assured that it was unlikely to explode, I put it in and pressed play.
First on was Ken, more smartly dressed than I have ever seen him showing a field filled with strutting peacocks. He was talking some spiel about the elegance and beauty of the noble peacock, about their value as a symbol. He then introduced someone else, as his partner. Ken had never, ever, partnered with someone else on any of his schemes before so that instantly raised my suspicions. This man, a Doctor Klaus Schwimmer from Dresden, apparently, was an expert on bird colouration and the genetics of their plumage. There then followed a rather professional video showing cells and pigments and chromophoric structures in the feathers. After that, I knew more than I ever wanted about the colours of birds.
The shot went back to Ken “But there is more, working over several years Dr Schwimmer has been able to alter the colours of a number of bird species, most impressively peacocks” there followed a slide show of images of birds more likely to have come from a dream. The first was a peacock with a large patches. “partial, induced albinism’ the caption said, to a magnificent bird with each feather a different colour of the rainbow, like a living version of the NBC logo. Some even had what looked like letters on them, which lead to the crux of Ken’s pitch.
“Peacocks birds in general have always drawn man’s attention with their beauty. But imagine if their beauty also held a message, your message. This is what we are offering here, true breeding, self replicating advertisements, only a minor, genetic tinkering away. If you provide us with a minor investment of ten thousand pounds, we will be able to start supplying interested parties with our peacock model And begin development of other bird model. Imagine! Getting into a whole new world of natural advertising, first. Just for this one-time offer.”
I, of course, declined immediately, as did the rest of my family, except for Auntie Jean who has yet to say no to Ken, more I suspect, to be supportive than any actual idea that it may succeed.
I next heard about it went the news announced about police investigations into the whole deal. Apparently, a great many people were taken into the idea of “Peacock Inc” and had either invested or sought to purchase these birds for themselves. They started to appear in parklands around the county advertising everything from the local butchers to house insurance. It turns out that the colour did not last past the next generation like Ken promised. It didn’t even last the first year.It turns out the birds had been painted, every single one, with some high quality dye. It turns out that Ken and “Klaus”, an unemployed plumber from Vienna. Had been painting peacocks to order.
Of course when all of this came to light Ken and his compatriot had already fled to South America on a ‘scientific retreat’, taking all of the money . They sold Grandma’s farm to try and pay it back, but it wasn’t enough. Still, it doesn’t seem that everybody came out of this jaded. If you wander the roads and fields of the county you can occasionally hear the rustle of feather and be faced with a moving sign advertising Morrison’s Meats or O’Brien’s construction, regularly topped up by paid ‘wildlife painters. Which is just to show that isn’t an idea crazy enough that you will not find someone willing to try it.