Sunday, 1 December 2013

The Beginning of Advent - In Which a Confused Hen Has an Odd Thought

Before I begin this telling of one of the truer stories of Christmas, I should point out to those of you of a nervous disposition that it is a story first recounted to me several years ago by one Mrs Laetitia Miggins, late hen of this parish, who has since departed this world for a better place, along with her constant and sometimes fond companions - Mrs Patience Bennett, Mrs Betty Slocombe, Mrs Gloria Pumphrey and Mrs Poo. Be not alarmed, then, that this is a tale from ghostly voices - there is nothing to fear. Consequently, there is NO excuse for making unnecessary and extravagant leaps of startlement at ANY point during this storytelling, so kindly sit still and listen...

'What kind of a name is Mrs Poo?' says Primrose, settling into her beanbag by the wood-burning stove, a mug of cocoa in one wing, a gingerbread aardvark in the other.

'It's a perfectly fine name for a hen,' says Daisy, who is already ensconced on the sofa, wrapped snugly in a wool blanket of the tartan McNoggin, for the night was already drawn in and it was more than a tad chilly around the Gorbals.

'You sniggered,' says Primrose.

'So did you,' says Daisy. 'In fact, you sniggered first and...'

'Hush, the both of you,' says I, casting a warning stare across the top of my glasses. 'Mrs Poo was a marvellous hen. A bit grumpy, maybe, and rather too fond of the taste of kneecap skin, but she did her egg-laying duty and kept the foxes at bay with her uncanny impersonation of an alpaca singing to the moon. Her full name was Mrs Polovitska. Mrs Poo for short.'

'And did Mrs Poo have a first name?' says Daisy.

'Stalin,' says I. 'Laugh at your peril.'

And so, with facts laid before us, we begin...

(Cue wibbly wobbly 'back to the past' hazy mist in the air.)

'How do you spell Christmas?' said Mrs Pumphrey. She had decided to craft her own Christmas cards this year and was sitting at the kitchen table at Much Malarkey Manor, her feathers covered with a goodly scattering of sequins and glitter. She was chewing thoughtfully on her best metallic silver writing pen. A tiny pom-pom robin was perched jauntily on her head.

'C...H...R...I...S...T...M...A...S,' said Mrs Miggins. It was the first day of December (co-incidentally, haha!), and liking to always be well prepared, she was standing at the Welsh dresser counting miniature chocolate eggs into pastel lilac baskets, ready for the Easter Bunny. (And in case you were wondering, Christmas was already organised and stacked in a cupboard ready to crack open on Christmas Eve.)

'Isn't there an 'L' in there somewhere?' said Mrs Pumphrey, frowning.

'No,' said Mrs Miggins. She paused in her egg counting. 'Why on earth would there be an 'L' in Christmas?'

'Because of the song,' said Mrs Pumphrey. 'By Carol. You know - 'The First No L.' '

Mrs Miggins eyed her friend suspiciously. 'Have you been sniffing craft glue?' said she.

'Absolutely not!' said Mrs Pumphrey. 'Nor have I been taking crafty sips at the Christmas sherry. I was just wondering.'

'That's okay then,' said Mrs Miggins, for the last thing she needed at this busy time of year was a hen running amok, high on Copydex. And so she continued filling the Easter baskets with Easter eggs, and Mrs Pumphrey continued crafting her Christmas cards, and a companionable stillness fell upon Much Malarkey Manor.

Yet as the day progressed, Mrs Pumphrey found she could not remove the thought of the First No L from her head, which was unusual because so short was her attention span generally, that ideas rarely remained in her head for more than a second or...oooh, look! A squirrel!

('Will you please pay attention, Mrs P?' begged the recounter of this tale, also known as me. 'Sorry,' said Mrs Pumphrey, 'but there was a squirrel. Honest!')

Mrs Pumphrey continued to ponder. Surely Christmas must have contained an 'L' at some point, or why else would Carol have felt the need to write a song about the very first time that it didn't - The First No L? And who was Carol anyway? These were vexing thoughts, perplexing thoughts, thoughts that needed exploring, and preferably sooner rather than later, before they made her head explode.

'I know who can help me,' she said, to no-one in particular but herself and certainly not Mrs Miggins who was now plugged into her i-pod and was bopping around the kitchen to the sounds of Barry Manilow at the London Palladium 1973. 

And she went into the hallway, picked up the telephone and made a call.


Countryside Tales said...

I am all agog.....

Lou Mary said...

I love reading your stories! I hope there are more to come :)