Christmas #2

We plan a relaxing Boxing Day walk.

My sister, RonnieB, is anxious to be back by mid-day, as she is keen that my nephew, DonnieB, gets fed on time. I am also keen to be fed on time. I do not know why babies always take priority. It is typical selfishness from the young.

I get up early, at 4.30am, in order to start negotiations with my mother, my father, my mother in law, my father in law, my sister, my brother in law, my nephew and the LTLP where we are going and how we are going to get there. By 10.30am this aspect is sorted out. We will drive to Sandringham, where the Queen lives, and walk around there.

We are in our allocated cars by 10.45. At this point, my father tries to renegotiate, but I am having none of it. We are in a hurry.

There is a knock on the windscreen.

It is the Village Doctor. I give him a complicated ‘it is really nice to see you, and Happy Christmas, and hope you have a good Boxing Day, but we are in a bit of a hurry, being six and a quarter hours into our relaxing walk and not quite having started it yet’ wave.

“I’ve just had the neighbours round,” he replies. “I think one of your chickens is in their front drive.”

I am a bit taken aback by this. Short Tony and I have been letting the chickens free-range over Christmas, as a treat. Their little faces light up when we go to open the gate to let them into the back gardens.

“Are you sure it’s one of ours?” I ask doubtfully. “They do not go near the road, as they are quite sensible.”

“I think it is.”

I look round at the crowd of impatient prospective walkers in the car, and in the car behind.

“I could try to catch it for you if you want, and bring it back?” he says.

It is an honorable offer, but would be beyond the call of duty. I sigh. “Won’t be a second,” I tell the people in the car. I then give the people in the second car a complicated ‘yes I know we are in a hurry, and I won’t be long, but I just have to go to fetch a chicken from up the road’ wave.

We reach the scene of the reported chicken-sighting. The Village Doctor lives sort of over the road and round the corner, and it is quite a way for a chicken to saunter. But there, in his neighbour’s front drive, is a chicken.

“It’s one of ours,” I confirm.

We study the chicken for a bit. My chickens are quite good-natured, but being picked up causes them alarm. It is quite happy pecking around near us, but any approach causes it to scurry away at speed.

The key to catching chickens is that you need to back them into a corner. Once you have backed them into a corner, they have nowhere to go and you can make a proper grab for them. Often it is useful to have a net, or a large flat corner-backing device, to achieve this. We have neither of these things, nor a corner. We circle round the bird, making occasional ineffectual lunges.

The chicken makes a break for the road. Travelling hearse-slowly from the direction of the Village is a Nissan Micra, manned by two pensioners. They lurch to a halt as a chicken flees across their path pursued by a sprinting General Practitioner.

The chicken abruptly spins 180 degrees, and dives underneath the car. I catch up, huffing and puffing. The pensioners look warily around them as we position ourselves on either side of the car, crouching purposefully on the balls of our feet, ready to pounce. I give them a complicated ‘I’m very sorry to delay you, but one of my chickens is underneath your car, which is surprising as they are generally quite sensible, but don’t worry – we are just about to catch it and take it back home’ wave.

There is a short stand-off. Me, Village Doctor, pensioners, chicken.

The chicken pokes out its head from underneath the front bumper. “Aha!” I cry, making a grab. It withdraws quickly and shoots out from the rear of the car, hastening down the middle of the road back towards the Cottage.

We set off after it and, now it is going in the right direction, a lifetime of watching ‘One Man and His Dog’ saves the day. The chicken is expertly shepherded into Short Tony’s garden, via a brief detour around Wallace’s outside lights.

“Thank you,” I say to the Village Doctor.

“No problem.”

I rejoin the car-load of relatives. We go for a relaxing Boxing Day walk.

18 Comments

  1. Woo hoo – it’s the next Wallace and Gromit animation, crossed with Chicken Run, the Great Escape (except there wasn’t a tunnel) and Run Fat Boy Run.

    I hope you were ALL fed on time. Especially the chickens.

  2. I hope the Queen didn’t mind being kept waiting…

  3. I hope someone videoed that.

  4. Sandringham’s in Norfolk? Poor Mrs Queen. Surely she could’ve swapped it for something less infra dig, like a semi-detached in Solihull or similar? What are all her flunkies doing all day, exposing her majesticness to the likes of you? Then again, I suppose it’s a case of birds of a feather when one considers all the in-breeding.

    Pleasantly surprised to hear that you have a village doctor, tho’. Thought you metropolitan imperialists had long since driven out anyone who still actually worked for a living. Unless of course “village doctor” is code for “celebrity plastic surgeon who weekends in the delightful little mansion just down the road from mine”…

  5. You should befriend the Sage. He is a chicken-charmer and they all flock to him willingly.

    Failing that (though he is very friendly, he has limits) you could just have left the chicken to enjoy her day of freedom. She would have gone home before dark.

  6. Not a very relaxing start to the walk after such an early start organising every thing.
    Did you all get fed on time?

  7. So do we now know why the chicken crossed the road?

  8. The key to catching chickens is a long stick with a hook.

    All the best poultry people have ‘fowl catchers’ – though most of them aren’t very funny either.

  9. I know nuffin’ about chickens so natch I have the best advice. What you need is a wee little lariat, a large hat and a pair of boots with decorative stitching on and toes pointed enough to squash beetles that lurk in corners. You can keep these items by the door so as to be constantly ready for Chicken Wrangling Duty when it arises. The boots protect against rabid dog bites and the attentions of riled chickens, the hat gives ample warning to other citizens that you are on a mission and should be given a wide berth and the lariat tells the chicken you mean business and it should stop messing about immediately.

    Honestly, the proper equipment is all that really matters.

  10. There’s a nice pub near there called The Feathers. Its in a villiage called Dursingham which recently had an antrax-scare which turned out to be a false alarm. This pub has a chair in it which was a King’s from a few centuries ago (I can’t remember which – King or century). The pub does a mean steak and ale pie though.

  11. Oh yeah and the chair had to be specially-made really wide cos the King was really rotund

  12. I am amazed by your repertoire of waves. Perhaps we could have a video demo? It might be a big Christmas seller for 2009. The next Venn That Tune…

  13. Aha – so you never actually caught the chicken? Wave.

  14. Hullo King Fuzzyfelt and Pinklea and welcome!!! (I think – I’ve sort of lost track of who’s new and who’s not).

    King Fuzzyfelt – I suggest you concentrate on the royal connections rather than the anthrax when you apply for your next job at the Dersingham tourist board. It sounded really picturesque until that bit.

  15. If it is winter, then what do the chickens have to peck at on the ground? Don’t their ickle beaks get bent or bruised from pecking at the cold hard frozen tundra? Why are the chickens not in a nice warm garage or barn or something for the winter? I am worried about the chickens, Jonny.

  16. That extension must have been more extensive than you described. Now you seem to be putting up both sides of the family, whereas before you couldn’t raise a spare with a loo.
    LTLP must be minting it. Well done!

  17. Dear Jonny B
    I have just read on the Facebook that your blog is “genuinely funny and interesting”. I am writing you a quick note to say that I have read your blog and agree with the Facebook’s opinion.
    Warmest regards
    Non-workingmonkey

  18. “Won’t be a second” .. indeed. An hour, or so later.

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