Someone asked me the other day what the hens were up to. 'We haven't heard from the hens recently,' they said, in a manner that suggested they might be something to do with some kind of clandestine hen fan club.
'What do you mean, 'what are they doing?' ' said I. 'What they usually do - eat, poop, pop out an egg or two, alphabetize their Neil Diamond CD collection...'
And right on cue strains of 'Sweet Caroline' drift across the garden, and two pairs of wings can be seen held aloft, swaying from side to side.
'No,' said my enquirer. 'I mean, they used to get up to so much. I enjoyed the tales of things they were doing and...well, you know...I miss the laughs.'
Oh right, I thought. I know exactly what this is. I say, 'You mean, you are bored with what I'm writing, don't you?'
A bit of embarrassed shuffling ensues accompanied by the downcasting of eyes and the blushing of cheeks. 'Noooooo,' said the person. 'Well, it's sort of ranty of late, isn't it? Not that I don't enjoy a rant - who doesn't? - but well, you know...a bit of a laugh wouldn't go amiss. Would it?'
'Fine,' I say/bark/humph/scowl/all these options. 'Actually, I have Important Stuff To Do. Like finish these mice...'
'...because as you can see some of them still have no wings. How are they supposed to fly without wings? And NONE of them have faces, which presents a whole new set of issues. AND there isn't a sniff of a flower posy for any of them which will scupper completely their chances of securing any bridesmaid duties. And also, there is a Flora Bijou Mybug lurking in the background to steal them away because she CANNOT accept they are magic fairy mice and NOT to be used as cat toys and...'
'So will the hens do the news today?' says my every hopeful chicken stalker.
'PRIMROSE!!CAMILLAAAAA!!!!' I holler across the garden sounding exactly like the innate common fishwife I am. 'DO THE NEWS PLEASE! I AM BUSY!!'
'What's that?' says Primrose. 'What'd she say?'
'Something about having a snooze because she's been busy,' said Camilla. 'I think.'
'Oh, and we haven't?' sniffs Primrose. 'That's typical, that is. Who's going to deliver the news today if she's lounging on the chaise like Lady Pooped?'
'We could,' says Camilla. 'I was just thinking we haven't had our say for a while. I bet our fans are missing us.'
'How's the fan club membership going, by the way?' says Primrose.
'37...' says Camilla.
'Oh,' says Primrose, sounding slightly disappointed.
'...thousand,' says Camilla. 'We may need to book an extra coach for the Summer outing.'
'Oooh, goody!' says Primrose. 'Where are we going this year?'
'Well, says Camilla, 'I thought we'd avoid go-karting...'
'A wise decision I think,' agrees Primrose. 'Especially after last year...'
'...least said about last year the better, I think,' says Camilla. 'So we're going to the pinetum to do some cycling and fishing.'
'Sounds suitably refined,' says Primrose.
'And then on to 'Spangles and Dangles' nightclub for the evening!' says Camilla.
'I know a joke about that,' says Primrose. 'What's the difference between a dangly...'
'Ssssssh!!' says Camilla, clapping a wing across Primrose's beak. 'There might be children reading. Or Great Aunt Pollie.'
Primrose sighs. A muffled sigh, what with her face being smothered in feathers.
'Let's do the news,' says Camilla. She removes her wing from Primrose's face.
'There is no news,' says Primrose.
'Well,' says Camilla. 'That was easy, wasn't it?'