Sunday, 13 March 2011

As sure as eggs are eggs

A clutch of freshly laid eggs were delivered to me yesterday by Mr B who keeps bantams in his garden.  The Girls, as they are known, practically have their own web site, so popular are they.  They are indeed splendid creatures and have regular spa days chez Mr B. I was pretty bird-phobic till I met them, but they have won me over with their endearing habit of 'pock pocking' calls of greeting and being very fond of being stroked till they fall into a pretty feathered coma of contentment in your lap. 
Anyway, I got to thinking about all things hen-like in books and a remarkable thing arose:  All clearly bonkers people have, at some time, lived in a hen house. In fact and in fiction.  I adored the story of Lady Gladys, who had one of the first nose jobs that went a little awry.  She had demanded a nose based on a classical bust, and it was duly done but filled with wax, so that she could never sit in front of a fire lest it melt (which apparently it did).  She had great beauty and wealth and married into the aristocracy but it all went horribly wrong when she lurched from charmingly eccentric to completely batty and retired amongst the hens.  Chips Channon saw her once on Bond Street and doffed his hat and was about to greet her, when she froze him out with an icy sapphire stare.  Then of course, there was Great Uncle Ulick who is drafted in to partner a Molly Keane heroine who to her shame, is splattered with chicken manure as it is rumoured, and she suspects it is true that he lives with his chickens.  And Ma Kettle - oh my goodness, the star of The Egg and I.... You have been alerted Mr B. Stay out of the hen house!

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