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Chicken Run

eggs in tray on white surface
Photo by Daniel Reche on Pexels.com

For those of you who read my blog regularly you will know that my family and I keep chickens. I came quite literally face to face with my nemesis the other week. No, not my mother. A fox. As I came back from walking the Hound I encountered some feathers in the road. Not those of Speckled Jim, but feathers which looked very much like they had previously been attached to one of our speckled chickens. As I walked further up the hill I saw a bushy, black-tipped tail above the brow of a low hedge in our garden. I chased up the garden and the tail picked up speed to a light trot. I surmised that Mr Fox was still in the vicinity and his name was not Basil. I got to the top of the garden and Definitely Not Called Basil had reached the brow of the hill ahead of me. He stopped, turned, looked at me and then slowly walked away. If he could have flipped me the bird, he would have done.

At this point some of you may be wondering why I didn’t unleash the Hound. Those of you who have met the Hound will not be wondering. So for the benefit of those of you who have not been brought a shoe on arrival at my house, the Hound thinks he’s a chihuahua and is no match for a dog fox Definitely Not Called Basil.

So then began the grizzly and unpleasant job of securing the crime scene. As far as the Childerbeasts were concerned, we had six chickens in the morning and only two in the evening. That caused enough upset. The reality was rather more unpleasant. I found one headless body not far from the house, and whilst I was locating suspicious piles of feathers and trying to coax anyone hiding back out with some corn, my neighbour came round to let me know that she too had located an equally suspicious pile of feathers on her front door step. As her chickens were in, she had reached the inevitable conclusion.

Whilst I was in the garden with my neighbour, Definitely Not Called Basil, brazen bastard that he is, came back. His paw stopped mid-air as our eyes locked and in that moment we assessed eachother. He wisely concluded that he did not want to take me on and retreated.

After an hideous evening with lots of tears shed by the Childerbeasts, Man of the House spent an entire weekend trying to create a secure area for the chickens. We agreed that it would be unwise to create a buffet arrangement in that Definitely Not Called Basil could get in but the chickens could not get out. One of his suggestions was to put an electric fence around our entire garden. Tempting as that was to deter some visitors, I was not keen. Another would have looked like Colditz which might be considered a little too elaborate. So we have settled on some fencing. The enclosure is close to, and in the sight of, the house. And four new chickens have joined the two who came home on the evening of that fateful day.

However, the two who came home keep getting out. They jump onto a wall, sneak under the hedge and into the woods beyond. In order to try and limit the future carnage, I have put some canes across the top of the wall with some bunting to encourage the two escapees to stay in the enclosure near to the house. The bunting I have chosen is all twenty eight flags of the European Union. We have been having much Fun with Flags and they have been re-arranged several times to try and encourage the two chickens who insist on escaping, to remain. I am not suggesting that the other four will not be literally snapped up at any point, but the enclosure was made with their longevity in mind and one hopes it provides a certain degree of protection. However, there are only so many times I can re-arrange the flags and chase two chickens around the garden with a stick and some corn to try and save them from themselves before they get devoured. Therefore, I must prepare for the inevitable, which in spite of the efforts of the adults in the house, will affect us all.

It is almost as it there is some sort of analogy that I could draw with current events, if only I could put my finger on what it is.

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The Clitterati

white lily flower
Photo by Trina Snow on Pexels.com

Less than a hundred years ago, a few women got a say
in how the country was run, but it wasn’t an easy way.
Some didn’t like other people voting, because that would affect the status quo,
And if that became unbalanced, that might mean they would have to go.

We are the Clitterati, descendants of the Suffragettes,
All we want is equality, but we haven’t got there yet.

Equal Pay and Sex Discrimination Acts required all genders treated the same,
Although they were on the statute book, the difference was still plain.
Women have the babies, so they are often overlooked,
If you have a career and a baby, either way, I’m afraid, you’re fucked.

We are the Clitterati, we are half the population,
We work and pay our taxes, and yet are still the poor relation.

And onto the Equality Act, as close as 2010,
reiterating the requirement to pay women the same as men.
Large companies have been forced to show their figures and the facts are clear:
If you have a penis you are paid more; year on year on year.

We are the Clitterati, hello, yes, not gone away.
You want the fruits of our labours, but you do not want to pay?

In 2018 the Press reported the extent of intimidating sexual behaviour,
This was news to decent men – but not women – that’s the flavour.
None of it was a surprise to us, the advent of metoo:
Women don’t like being bussed to dinners to be felt up by men- who knew?

We are the Clitterati, (that’s not really a thing),
But not any less ridiculous than being favoured for your ding.

Politicians who happen to be female have their legs front page news,
Confusing with their womanly wiles – politics just a cunning ruse.
Too hot, too pushy, too clever, too fat, or worst of all, not hot enough,
Bikini bods, body hair – but we have to like it rough.

We are the Clitterati, all colours and shapes and sizes,
We’ll look how we like, thank you. But we will now meet you at your rises.

Kittens, ponies, lots of pink, and books with lots of pictures,
Don’t worry our pretty little heads, our brains are not permanent fixtures.
The girl exams? Yes, we did those. The easy ones for females?
Please feel free to congratulate our breasts, they’re the ones that write the emails.

We are the Clitterati, we are more than half of humankind,
We think we should be treated equally and you really shouldn’t mind.

Some of our hands rock a cradle, some of us wanted to but couldn’t,
Some never wanted either – it shouldn’t matter – and it doesn’t.
Our children will inherit this precious Earth, and as phenomenal Maya once said,
I am a Phenomenal Woman, and for that, I will not bow my head.

We are the Clitterati, we don’t really exist, but we’re strong.
We’re everywhere, yet nowhere – and poof – like that – we’re gone.

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The Sock Fairy

Thank goodness that in addition to Father Christmas and his elves taking the cumbersome task of present acquisition, wrapping and delivery off my hands, that I also have my House Fairy Team. This morning they were able to flutter about looking for school cardigans at the last minute because although they had been washed, The Sock Fairy had not put them into Childerbeast Number Two and Three’s drawers.  Tut, tut.

If you don’t have a resident House Fairy Team, I strongly recommend that you get one immediately for 2019. They cost nothing and really make life so much easier for everyone – usually the female in the house in particular (Human in Charge).  As we all know, more often than not, it is still deemed the female’s job to shoulder the majority of these tasks, paid or unpaid employment, full or part time – the statistics are widely and publicly available if you’d like to argue the toss with me.  I think you can mix and match your requirements, but if I run through the main team for you.

  1. The Monitor Fairy.  No, not like the lizard.  S/he (for no one has ever seen a House Fairy) is essentially in charge.  Not a very glamorous title, and not a very glamorous job either.   S/he has a number of tasks, but in summary:
  • Clothing and bedding.  S/he is expected to know not only precisely what items of clothing are in everyone’s wardrobe, but also their whereabouts at any given moment in time, their status in the wash cycle, and crucially, when the owner of that item of clothing is likely to want it to grace their person, but before they have actually communicated that wish which usually only happens at the point of dressing.   This excludes all items belonging to the Human in Charge – they’re fairies, not wizards.
  • Food.  S/he is to take a note of all of the foods that the Humans (and any animals) residing in the House like and dislike.  They are to ensure that there is an endless supply of those foodstuffs into the House in order that no Human in the house (excepting the Human in Charge) is left to the mercy of The Fridge Troll (see below).  It is also vital that there is a number of nutritious and balanced snacks available at any one time.  It is essential that these are available so that the Human In Charge can list them to the other Humans in the house who announce their hunger for the sole purpose of them being listed and subsequently roundly and repeatedly spurned, even if they were a favoured item previously. 
  • Cleanliness.  It is The Monitor Fairy who instructs The Cleaning Fairy to chisel the toothpaste off the bathroom sink and sandblast the kitchen floor.
  • Diaries – social and unsocial.  Every single Human’s movements, social and work-related are to be noted so that there is not a diary clash.  It is also vital to ensure that the points above re clothing and food can be seemlessly dovetailed to encompass the movements of everyone in the house (Human in Charge exclusion applies).  If there is a diary clash then it is to be noted that as a first solution, if the Human in Charge is one of those involved in the diary clash, then whatever they had planned (work, career, wee on own) has to be ditched first so as to cause the least disruption.  If the Human in Charge is not the cause of the diary clash, then simply cloning of self is all that is required to resolve the issue – see Hogwarts.

Also in the House Fairy Team are the following:

  • The Sock Fairy.  As I am sure you all know, The Sock Fairy is the one who creates all odd socks and let widely known, also puts all of the clean underwear away.  So when someone shouts “I’ve got no pants” in an accusatory tone five minutes before you’ve got to leave the house in the morning, you can take comfort in knowing that it isn’t you that they’re blaming for the shoddy service, but the most wayward and undisciplined member of the House Fairy Team. 
  • The Toy Fairy. S/he knows the location of all toys.  And when I say all toys, I mean toys and playthings that have been completely ignored for months, even years, but suddenly and inexplicably become the best thing sliced bread and need to be located.  This is usually when The Tidy Up Fairy is trying to sneak them out of the house to a charity shop.
  • The Tidy Up Fairy.  Not to be confused with the Cleaning Fairy, who actually cleans once s/he can get to the floor after the Tidy Up Fairy has worked their magic.  If you get nothing else get a Tidy Up Fairy.  They spend all day every day picking up toys, pieces of paper, drawings and other bits of general debris and putting them into small piles around the house.  They are so focused on their task that they go into one room with the express intention of helping The Toy Fairy but then get distracted by something that needs tidying up and then wonder why they came into that room in the first place.  They are constantly concerned that this means something more serious is happening to them rather than they have too many things going on.

Being a House Fairy is not an easy task.  There are always baddies working against the House Fairy Team, and the most notable of these are The Fridge Troll and The Toothpaste Terror. 

  • The Fridge Troll.  S/he (for no one has ever seen a Fridge Troll) sneaks into your fridge and eats all of the food.  One minute it is full, then next it is not.  This can cause such distress to one of the Humans that they feel the need to shout, immediately, whilst their head is still in the fridge and they themselves are hanging off the fridge door and leaning into it that “there’s nothing in the fridge.”  Again, this has a tone which suggests that this parlous state of affairs is All. Your. Fault.  Of course it is not, it is The Fridge Troll and their evil works.
  • The Toothpaste Terror.  Rather like Pan’s Shadow, this Creature of Darkness flits into the bathroom and layers toothpaste onto the basin in such a manner that it hardens in seconds and then, just so you know they’ve been, they spit the remainder all over the mirror. This needs particular monitoring just after the basin and mirror has been cleaned as that is the time when the bathroom is at its most vulnerable.

Before taking a team on, please also consider that most days it will look as if the House Fairy Team have been doing absolutely nothing all day.  On occasion you may well wonder why you are convinced that you can hear the tiny, high-pitched sound of fairy snoring at nine o’clock in the evening if so little has been achieved.  Please do remember that they are to all intents and purposes, invisible and their task is quite literally, thankless.  Except one day, just one day, maybe they will hear someone mutter something that will keep their heart warm when their magic starts to fade: “Mummy, sometimes when I can’t get to sleep, I put my nose into the pillow because it smells of you. It makes me feel better and then I can go to sleep.”

Happy New Year.