Monday, 18 July 2011

The Henprentice

Parallel to the BBC series 'The Apprentice' which was deservedly won last night by Tom, the HBC (Hen Broadcasting Corporation) has been running an equivalent series called 'The Henprentice'. This year was the first series - whether there will be another next year remains to be seen. Audience figures have been promising (63 in the first week, a steady 38-42 for the remaining weeks) and the winner was popular enough to earn several column inches in the international poultry business and finance magazine 'The Nest Egg - News for the Hens on the Job.'

And the winner? Well, not as you might expect either Mrs Pumphrey or Mrs Slocombe. Mrs Slocombe did enter the competition, but her business plan to set up a company that made emergency biscuits for chickens called 'Bicks for Chicks' was deemed too stupid for words by the organiser of the programme, Sir Alhen Bant-Hen. (Blimey, that was laboured...) Of course, Mrs Slocombe intends to set up her company regardless of not winning the prize offered by Sir Alhen, namely £142 plus stationery expenses and an electric bicycle. She's in the kitchen as I write, experimenting with a variety of ingredients, in manic search of a combination that is likely to break all but the most steel-like of beaks. I am thinking that I'll need a new cooker by the time she's finished.

No, the winner was actually a distant cousin of Mrs Pumphrey's. Called Mrs Bumphrey. And Mrs Pumphrey is very excited because Mrs Bumphrey has asked her to go into business with her.
'It's just what I need,' says Mrs Pumphrey. 'With my egg-laying days beginning to fizzle out, I could do with an interesting project to occupy my time.'
'Sounds like a good idea,' I say. 'So, what's this business Mrs Bumphrey wants you to join?'
'Camping for Hens,' says Mrs Pumphrey. 'Only posher.'
'Oh,' I say. 'Like glamping, you mean?'
'Glamping?' says Mrs P.
'Yes,' says I. 'A cross between glamour and camping. Glamping.'
'That's the badger!' says Mrs Pumphrey. 'Apparently, Mrs Bumphrey got the idea for her business when she came to stay a few weeks ago and slept in our tent.'
'Ah,' I say. I remembered that weekend. A fine looking hen arrived at the Manor, carrying a sequinned suitcase and looking even more glam than Mrs Pumphrey, if that is at all possible. She declined, politely, the offer of bunking up with the other two in the Eglu, mostly because Mrs Slocombe was mid-way through a detox which involved hefty consumption of lentils, pulses and cabbage. Instead, she seemed quite happy to use the tent that Andy made for the girls for use during the Winter daytimes.

'And whilst she liked the outdoorsy camping aspect,' says Mrs Pumphrey, butting into my reminiscence, 'she thought the facilities were a tad, well, basic.'
'Well, yes,' I say. 'It's a length of waterproof fabric stretched over an arc of flexible fencing and lined with straw.'
'So Mrs Bumphrey had a vision,' says Mrs Pumphrey. 'A vision of canopies and silk drapes, of wood-burning stoves, and camp beds with eight inch feather mattresses, and proper flush toilets and an electric hook-up for the chandelier...'
'Chandelier?'
'It was a vision...'
'Carry on...'
'And underfloor heating and a mini-bar filled with Bacardi and a delicious supply of emergency biscuits for hens from a company called 'Bicks for Chicks'...'
'Has Mrs Bumphrey met the managing director of Bicks for Chicks?' I say.
'I don't know,' says Mrs Pumphrey.
'I strongly advise that she does,' I say. 'So how long will it take to get the company up and running?'
'We're discussing names at the moment,' says Mrs Pumphrey. 'My favourite so far is Bumphrey and Pumphrey Happy Glam-Camping Company.'
'Sounds fun,' I say.
'I think you should call it The Bump 'n Pump Mighty Pitch-Up,' says Mrs Slocombe, appearing from the kitchen covered in flour, raisins and golden syrup.
'Shut up,' says Mrs Pumphrey.

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