Is It Cuckoo Time Yet?


Is it weird how we hate magpies but love the first cuckoo of Spring?  Perhaps it is because the cuckoo perpetrates evil out of sight, all the time making re-assuring calls, while the magpies are just so brazen in their squawking murder and destruction.

In my experience many enterprise capital investment projects are a lot like cuckoos.  Beautiful eggs are laid in the carefully constructed nests of loving parents.  Shiny new enterprise centres owned and managed by the community for the community.

But it soon becomes apparent that these fledglings have tremendous appetites for cash.  That two person reception desk costs a lot to staff.  Then we have hosts, caretakers and security to pay for.  There are rates, insurances, fuel bills and marketing costs.

There are the costs of low occupancy and repairs.

Suddenly the loving parents are run ragged just trying to get enough cash to keep the beast alive.  “Forget the social purpose – we just have to pay the bills.”

The revenue streams that were written into the business plan from leases on community cafes and gyms, from rent paying tenants and the conference trade just don’t materialise as forecast.

Equipment gets stolen or broken and there is just not the cash to replace it.  The shine starts to come off.

Money that could be spent elsewhere gets gobbled up by a project that is “too politically important, too symbolic”, to be allowed to fail.  Other projects die so that the ‘special one’ can survive for another year.

And what of the original cuckoo – the funders that helped lay the egg?  “Well you must understand – there is only so much we can do. The ‘business plan’ assured us it would be viable by now.  No we can’t offer any more funding.  Perhaps it can be sold?”

Now ALL fledglings go through periods when they cause their parents grief.

  • Will this ugly duckling ever become a beautiful swan?
  • Will it survive its maiden flight?
  • Will it ever learn how to sustain itself without becoming  a capricious scavenger like the magpie?

The sad truth is that some of them never do.

Because from the very beginning they were cuckoos.

The cuckoo she’s a pretty bird
She sings as she flies
She brings us glad tidings
And tells us no lies

She sucks all sweet flowers
To make her voice clear
She never sings cuckoo
Till summer is near

She flies the hills over
She flies the world about
She flies back to the mountain
She mourns for her love

The cuckoo she’s a pretty bird
She sings as she flies
She brings us glad tidings
And tells us no lies


  1. Anthony Phillips says:

    The Cuckoo is a nightmare in feathers. It’s egg is dropped into the nest of another bird by the adult, never to return. After the baby cuckoo hatches, it then proceeds to murder the natural children of the nest, usually by shoving them out so they fall to their ant-ridden fates below. It can also simply smother the young of the bird which will “raise” it.

    All this time, the mother bird is somehow beguiled by this interloper and, following her mother’s instinct, will feed the thing as her own child, even when it grows to monstrous size, dwarfing even her. It is said by some that the cries of the young cuckoo are irresistible for the mother whose real offspring are long dead. After it’s abyssmal hunger has been continually sated, and it is fed to maturity, it takes it’s final flight, seeking to eventually repeat this dark process.

    So when you hear the plaintive cries of the cuckoo bird, you hear an entity that is saying “feed me, for I am yours now!” “harken to my song, though I am an alien thing of murder and deceit” “carry my seed and my burden, for it is your nature to be used”

    Many capital ventures ARE very much like the cuckoo. And this is a fearful thing.


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