My obsession with chickens is a relatively new development, so it’s not as if I was traumatised by a bucket of KFC when I was a toddler, and until recently I regarded poultry with pretty much the same viewpoint as every other animal-munching person on this planet ie chicken = stupid, often kept in disgustingly small cages, nice seasoned in a sandwich.
I was neither for nor against them, but they had a moderate interest factor purely because they’re farm-related and I fancy myself as a bit of an animal lover. Well, as much as any omnivore can claim to love animals. Colour me a hypocrite if you must, I’ll be over in the Corner Of Shame eating a hot bacon roll.
So this is what happened. This was the turning point. This isn’t, however, the stage at which people started thinking I was a little peculiar. That was a good few decades previously.
It was 4 years ago and I was heavily pregnant and waiting patiently at the bus stop outside the local hospital after a check up. In pregnant woman terms “waiting patiently” involves lots of sighing, a large amount of shifting from one foot to another and a smattering of giving the father of the child the look that says “And you can cut that smile out, cos you’re getting a vasectomy..!” I was grumpy, it was bitterly cold and I’d lost all feeling in my feet. Of course I just assumed I’d lost feeling and they hadn’t just snapped off in some vastly improbable freak accident, but it had been a long time since I’d seen them to verify one way or another.
So there I was, a large round ball of sunshine when I caught sight of them – 2 chickens taking a casual stroll across the car park. I must have been slack-jawed and dribbling because Hubby takes one look at me and then follows my eyeline.
“Chickens!” I exclaimed, not entirely surprisingly.
“Yes.” he said by way of reply.
The chickens continue to stroll in their nonchalant manner across the tarmac like they own the place and taking the odd peck or two at stationary BMWs. There’s silence for 30 seconds or so.
“Chickens !!” I repeat, because he quite obviously doesn’t “get it”.
“….yes….” he says again, giving me that look that says “Oh Lord, the cheese has slid off her cracker again, please please don’t let her cause another scene…”
It occurs to me at this point that he’s not entirely grasping the enormity of what I’m trying to convey… the sheer improbability of feathered livestock jauntily strolling past the pathology department. After a short think, and never once taking my eyes off the duo, I attempt to clarify the situation for him.
“Chickens !!!” Possibly not the best summing-up of a situation in history.
He’d developed that slightly nervous big grin that every man who’s experienced the joy of fatherhood and the exhilaration of a hysterically unpredictable woman in her final weeks of pregnancy will be familiar with. It’s the one that says “Please give me some sort of clue what to say that won’t instantly reduce you to tears and/or physical assault”. I appreciated the effort and tried again.
“There are chickens. In the car park. Of the hospital. In a residential area. Chickens!!!”
“Ahhhhhh!” he says, relieved, “Yes.”
“This is The Netherlands. There are chickens everywhere,” he explains.
The birds are now standing at the bus stop with us, looking like they also are waiting for a number 73 to come along, but alas.. they make no attempt to board once it arrives. It occurs to me that this is possibly because they have no pockets for change, and I watch them as we slowly pull away from the curb on our way home.
So there you have it. That was the Genesis of my chicken obsession. Next time I shall tell you how it bloomed from a tiny seed of strangeness into a sapling of weird.