Monday, 8 July 2013


'So,' I say to Primrose and Daisy as I take them some odds and sods of bread crusts that only the beak of a hen can crack, 'did you see the Wimbledon final yesterday afternoon?'

Daisy takes a peck at the bread crust. She breaks it as though it was melt-in-the-mouth-fresh-from -the-oven shortbread. 'Mmmffffl.....mmnufffff....smifffffle....' she says, because that is what a hen sounds like with a beak full of food.

'She says,' interrupts Primrose, 'that no, we didn't watch it because tennis isn't like it used to be in the old days.'

Now, given the hens are just about a year old, I wonder exactly what they mean by 'the old days.' So I ask.

'Oh, you know,' says Primrose. 'When the likes of Tim Henman was in his prime. And Boris Pecker, and Martina Hengist and Cluck Eggbold...'

'Cluck Eggbold?' I say, because whilst I can just about let the first three dubious puns escape the pun-net (strawberries or not, ahahahahahaha!) the name 'Cluck Eggbold' requires an immediate Hawkeye challenge.

'Yes,' says Daisy. She has finished eating her bread and is wiping her beak with a napkin embroidered with a hen eating some bread. 'When we were girls (????) the Cluckster, as we called her, was our tennis heroine.'

'I've never heard of her,' I say, and earn myself withering stares from both hens.

'Oh course you haven't heard of her,' says Primrose. 'Because you are a person and she is a chicken and ne'er the twain shall meet.'

Now I am convinced Primrose and Daisy have been standing out in the sun too long.

'What do you mean?' I say. 'I meet chickens every day.'
'When?' demands Daisy, thereby ticking the quota box for one use of alliteration per day and possible one misunderstanding, too.
'Are you serious?' I say. 'When I come out and see you two. I am a human and you two are chickens, and thusly our twain do meet, and sometimes over sunflower seeds, grapes and bits of rock hard bread.'
The hens look at each other. There is a moment of silence and then they collapse into raucous laughter that goes on for so long I have time to nip back indoors, finish the washing up, complete a Sudoku (medium skill) and set up a deckchair for the sitting in of later this evening.

'I don't suppose,' I say, when the cackling has abated, 'that you'd like to tell me exactly what is so funny?'

Daisy wipes tears from her beak. 'You,' she says. 'Thinking we are chickens!'
'Hilarious!' agrees Primrose.
This time it is my turn to stare. 'Are you joking?' I say. 'Of course you are chickens. You peck, you scratch, you lay eggs, you cluck, you squawk and you fling yourselves around in the dust bath. What else would you be?'

The girls seem a little startled. They take themselves into a judgely huddle, and whisper away, occasionally looking over the space where their shoulders would be if hens had shoulders.

'And,' I say, in case they need any further evidence of their chickenness, 'by your own admission, if ne'er the twain of human and hen shall meet, then you wouldn't have heard of Cluck Eggbold either.' I restrain from adding, 'HA! In your face,' as a codicil, as that would be very immature.

After a short while, Primrose and Daisy emerge from their judgely huddle and deliver their verdict.

'We used to be hens,' says Primrose, carefully. 'And that is why we know about Cluck Eggbold. BUT...'she continues, before I can interrupt, 'since we have been living here, we have become, what is it, Daisy...'
'Anthropomorphised,' says Daisy, who is good at big words, and, completely unrelated, crochet work.
'...that's the badger,' says Primrose, 'ergo, we now think of ourselves as human.'

I allow their reasoning to sink in. Overhead, the sun is blazing and in my head, my ear is whistling. The hens have looks of grim determination fixed firmly on their hen faces. I decide that discretion is the better part of valour, and thus tick the quota box for one cliche a day.

'All right,' I say. 'I suppose it is my fault for giving you human blog adventures and voices, and Andy's fault for drawing cartoons of you dressed in clothes, wearing spectacles and riding unicycles and all that jazz.'

'Yes it is,' the hens say in unison. I give them a nod of concession, and retire to my deckchair to continue reading the epic that is 'Wolf Hall.'

Daisy turns to Primrose. 'Flippin' humans,' she says.


Countryside Tales said...

Love it! And Wolf Hall is a marvellous read, as is Bring Up The Bodies. Mayhap the girls would like to read it after you....?

Denise said...

They've already read it. 'Twas they who recommended it. They weren't that keen on 'Bring Up The Bodies' - not enough worms, apparently. But as a vegetarian, and therefore unconcerned with wormage, I shall give it a shot after 'Wolf Hall.'
(Am I sounding a little unhinged?)

Countryside Tales said...

You sound like me, but that's probably not very reassuring as I've been talking to moths all day...

Lou Mary said...

I do find your tales very amusing! My mum and I often find we humanise our dog a little! Our animals must think we are right silly!

Denise said...

Well, Lou Mary, I am glad I raise a smile for you every now and then! It's always good to have an appreciative audience. Spurs me on when writing gets tough.

And I think animals can be very human-like sometimes, don't you? I am sure your dog is a very much-loved creature.