Wednesday, March 28, 2007

It's Only Us Chickens

And into the unpublished pile goes the page I’ve just written about why I’m not feeling funny today… You see, somebody sent me a pretty abusive email this morning and it made me begin to wonder why I bother blogging at all. But at least it made me angry. Angry enough to tell you that I carry on because a Romanian girlfriend who thinks she’s a pop star based on a number seven hit with the ‘Hokey Cokey’ is about as funny as life gets. Surely her’s is a tale that needs telling, especially when she comes home with a cockerel she bought from a man she met at her pilates class.

Gabby is mixing with the more unusual side of Bangor society these days and her cockerel is pecking around my ankles as I type. It’s not a totally disagreeable sensation, though having a cock at my ankles is perhaps symbolic of how far my spirits have drooped this week.

‘You like Chippy?’ she had asked the bird as she nuzzled it over my breakfast table. The bird had said nothing but fixed me with its bead of an eye. Fowl are not known for their appreciation of the finer things in life and certainly have little or no regard for a Welshman in a thong at ten thirty in the morning.

‘And where do you intend to keep our guest?’ I asked as I spooned another load of Alpen into my mouth.

‘Guest?’ laughed Gabby. ‘What guest? Only you, me, and bird. Bird is no guest. Bird is family now.’

‘Well Bird must be on your side of the family,’ I told her. ‘No Dale I know of has only three toes.’

‘There’s your uncle Jimmy,’ she reminded me.

‘Industrial accidents are hardly genetic,’ I replied. ‘Or at least they’re not unless you’re from Liverpool…’

‘You’re trying to be funny,’ she said as the cockerel made a noise in its throat. ‘See! Only Bird laughs. I don’t.’

And with that, I accepted Bird as part of the family. I knew, that way, at least one member of the household would find me a little bit amusing in the morning.

Gabby’s reasons for buying the cockerel are actually quite good. She’s going to set up a small business breeding chickens. She claims that she used to do this back in the old country and has been encouraged to start again after reading about Bernard Matthews who started out with only a couple of turkeys. She has ambitions of owning old aircraft hangers, full to the struts with chickens. The enterprise is to begin at the allotments, which is where she’s been fermenting her potato gin these last few months. She has sheds down there and has become something of a pin up for the gardening fraternity. The chickens will have a free run of the ground where she’s been growing potatoes.

At eleven, the doorbell rang. Gabby was in the bath with her cockerel so I answered it.

‘Ah, I wonder if I might have a word with the lady of the house?’ asked a man in blue overalls. He was in his fifties, grey hair had ebbed to leave behind a pale pink tidemark of skin. He also had that style of thin moustache that went out in the fifties. ‘You are Mr. Dale?’ he asked.

‘I am,’ I replied, gesturing down to my personalised thong which reads ‘Chip Dale’ in a hardly discreet font.

‘Of course you are,’ smiled the man, his eyes flicking briefly southwards. ‘May I have a word with your wife, Mr. Dale?’

‘I’m not married,’ I said and again gestured to my thong as though it’s the answer to everything. Which, of course, it is.

‘Oh, but I was told Mrs Gabby Dale lives here…’

I shook my head. It’s not the first time that Gabby has been using my surname. She claims it gives her a cloak of anonymity in her business deals but I think she gets tired of trying to spell her surname.

‘She’s in the bath,’ I explained. ‘But she’s not my wife. She’s my Romanian girlfriend.’

‘In which case,’ said the man. ‘I’ll wait.’ And with no more ado, he brushed me aside and entered the flat.

No sooner had the man seated himself on the sofa than Gabby came out of the bathroom, walked straight through the flat, heading to the bedroom. The bird followed her, as did the man’s eyes. He’d clearly never seen a naked Romanian followed by a cockerel before.

‘With you in moment, birdman,’ said Gabby. ‘Chip make you drink. Chip make drink for birdman.’

‘Whisky if you’ve got any,’ said the man, looking a little flushed.

‘Can’t say I don’t blame you,’ I replied, going to fill two glasses.

‘I’m here about the hens,’ explained the man. ‘My name is Green. Graham Green.’

‘Ah, like the writer,’ I said, ready to tell him about my FE classes in English Literature.

‘Without the terminating e,’ he explained and then added. ‘I’m not a writer. I’m in the poultry business. The young lady is interested in buying hens to compliment her cockerel.’

‘A cockerel like that probably needs a lot of complimenting,’ I pointed out.

‘Oh, aren’t all men the same, Mr. Dale?’

I again gestured to my thong. He nodded his head in agreement.

After that, business was concluded quite quickly. Gabby returned and agreed to buy twenty three hens, to be delivered to the allotments that afternoon. I kept pretty quiet until the end when we were showing Mr. Green out.

‘One thing,’ he said, pausing in the doorway. ‘I suggest you don’t leave these hens alone for a night or two.’

‘Surely we shouldn’t bother them on their wedding night,’ I observed. Gabby elbowed my in my ribs but I felt the pain in my thong.

‘You should be around until you’ve tested your defences,’ explained Green. ‘A fox could kill them all in an evening.’

And that’s where Gabby is now: arranging to have a double wire fence put around the allotment and buried to a foot below ground to stop any foxes from tunneling under. The hens are to be delivered this afternoon and I’m to expect a phone call anytime now to tell me to take the cockerel to its new lodgings.

The most significant thing about the whole episode is that it turns out that Gabby has to travel to Glasgow this evening, and since the birds can’t be left alone, I’ll be guarding them for the next couple of days. I’ve got myself a sleeping bag, a camp bed, a torch, and more potato gin than is totally sensible to give a man when he’s feeling a bit down.

So, tonight, as you sit blogging by the fire, spare a thought for me and the chickens.

6 comments:

mutterings and meanderings said...

Just watch out you don't get bird flu...

Delicolor said...

"Ain't Nobody Here But Us Chickens"

(Five Guys named Moe)

Ms Baroque said...

Gawd.

At least they laugh at your jookes - at least the cockerel does.

Good luck.

Ms Baroque said...

jokes, of course I mean. I must have been thinking of chooks!

Anonymous said...

Don't worry about insults - they are the inevitable 'yin' to the 'yang' of increased success and popularity.

Chip Dale said...

M&M: I've had the shots.

Iain: Is that where that saying originally comes from? I thought it was something just stuck deep at the back of my brain.

Ms. Baroque: chickens aren't exactly the most demanding audience. I think that honour goes to American bloggers.

Anonymous: I only wish that were true but thank you, nevertheles. :)