Friday, 27 November 2009

Chapter 39 - The End? Not Quite...

'How is she today?' asked Andy, arriving home from work. It was two weeks before Christmas and two weeks since Mrs Pumphrey and Mrs Slocombe had gone on tour with 'Boom Penguin.'
'It's difficult to say,' I said. 'She seems okay on the outside, but every now and then I'll catch her standing hunched in the garden, looking about as miserable as a hen can look. I took her Christmas shopping today, and all she could do was sigh about how little she needed to buy this year. She wasn't even bothered about choosing Christmas crackers, and you know how fussy she gets about Christmas crackers.'
'Oh dear,' said Andy. He was worried about Mrs Miggins, as was I, because we both knew that once a hen's mood starts slipping downhill, they could give up on life oh so easily.
'I've brought her a tonic,' said Andy, producing a small bottle from his pocket.
'Something full of vitamins and minerals?' I said.
'Something full of brandy,' said Andy. 'Have Pumphrey and Slocombe phoned today?'
I shook my head. 'No. That's the fourth day in a row she hasn't spoken to them. It's so sad. She's been plotting their tour on a little map pinned to the kitchen wall in Cluckinghen Palace, and saving all the newspaper and magazine clippings in her scrapbook. I can't believe they have forgotten about her so easily.'
'Maybe we should get her some new companions,' said Andy. 'She'll feel happier if she has someone else to organise and boos around.'
'I thought that too,' I said. 'We can but try.'

And so it was decided. I went to fetch Mrs Miggins. She was sitting in her rocking chair in her parlour, swaying back and forth and humming a very blues version of 'When Will I See You Again?', a faraway look in her eyes.
'Come on, you,' I said briskly. 'We're going to get a couple more hens.'
'I don't want other hens,' said Mrs Miggins, sulkily. 'I want Betty and Gloria.'
I sighed, and sat on the armchair opposite.
'Well, you might not want more hens, but Andy and I do,' I said. 'We're missing our Saturday morning boiled egg and soldiers.'

And I chivvied and hassled Mrs Miggins until she got so fed up she put on her duffle coat and bobble hat and climbed reluctantly into the back of the car.
'Don't be getting French Marans,' she said. 'They're bonkers.'

* * * * * * * *

As it was, we came home with a couple of Buff Orpingtons and a Barnvelder. Mrs Miggins seemed pleased with our choice, although she muttered about the mud the Buffs would drag into Cluckinghen Palace on their trousers during the winter months.

'Hello,' I said, as we arrived back at the Manor caravan and went to introduce the new hens to their accommodation, 'did you forget to lock the door on your way out?'
'No,' said Miggins. 'I always lock the door. You know how particular I am about home safety.'
'Indeed,' I said. 'You're not head of the local Neighbourhood Watch Committee for nothing, are you?'

But the door to Cluckinghen Palace was definitely open, swinging gently in the wind, and forming a gaping mouth of a hole into the hallway.

Andy picked up a bean cane and we crept towards the Palace.
'You go first,' I said to Andy.
'Oh, so I get to go in first just because I'm the bloke, do I?' said Andy.
'No,' I said. 'You're the one with the bean cane.'

We snuck up the dark hallway, me and Andy, Miggo, the barnvelder and the Buffs. The new hens were clucking excitedly. This was like Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom for them, after their previously existence in a nursery barn with three hundred other hens.
'Shush!' hissed Mrs Miggins. 'Beaks sharp and talons at the ready. We may need to attack.'

The sound of glass shattering came suddenly from the formal sitting room.
'In there,' whispered Andy. 'Now on the count of three, we charge, okay?'
'Okay,' we whispered.
'One,' whispered Andy.
'Two,' whispered Andy.
'THREE!!!!' shouted Andy and we all charged, waving our bean cane, arms and wings in a most terrifying, and quite ineffective manner.

'AAAAAAAAAAAARGHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!' we shouted, in the style of Braveheart racing through the Scottish hills, the cold North winds whistling up his sporran.

'AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!' shouted back the intruders, for there were two.

'GLORIA!' shouted Mrs Miggins.
'LAETITIA!' shouted Mrs Pumphrey.
'BETTY!' shouted Mrs Miggins.
'I ONLY BROKE A GLASS!' shouted Mrs Slocombe.

And the three hen friends fell into each other wings, reunited and excited, crying and laughing all at the same time until I got fed up with the malarkey and called a halt.

'You came back!' said Mrs Miggins, her previously floppy comb perking up before our eyes.
'Of course we did!' said Mrs Pumphrey. 'We couldn't stand being away from you for a moment longer.'
'But you haven't called for four days,' said Miggins.
'We've been stuck in Norfolk,' said Mrs Slocombe. 'Dreadful phone signals.'
'And transport links,' added Mrs Pumphrey. 'We got as far as Ipswich on the train and had to hitchhike the rest of the way. We're exhausted.'

'What about the band? Couldn't they give you a lift home?' asked Mrs Miggins.
'Oh, well, you know men,' said Mrs Pumphrey. 'Once they set their sights on travelling up to Glasgow and the temptations of a deep-fried curly wurly, there's no diverting them.'
'Arrogant cocks,' snorted Mrs Miggins.
'That's not what we called them,' said Mrs Slocombe, 'but don't worry, we've left them a little present.'
'Oh yes?' said Mrs Miggins. 'Do tell.'
'Kipper on the radiator pipe of Dave's limo and prawns in the mobile sound system,' said Mrs Pumphrey.
'The perfect gift,' added Mrs Slocombe.
'No,' said Mrs Miggins. 'The perfect gift is having my two very best friends in the whole wide world home for Christmas.'
'Well,' said Mrs Pumphrey, 'we are Poulet Nous,' aren't we?'
'Us Chickens,' said Mrs Miggins. 'Forever.'

1 comment:

  1. what a wonderful read!! laughter, suspense, I enjoyed every minute of it, I look forward to the sequel.