“And now,” as Monty Python used to say, “for something different…..”
The rather ill-tempered looking chicken here portrayed is not known to me personally. I had to upload a free portrait, my library offering nothing in the way of fowl.
Too bad, really, as I should like to have been able to show you a picture of “Bork”, although, now that I think about it…
In 1979 my parents were living in Barbados and I needed little encouragement to visit, particularly during winter months. As I recall the fare cost me all of $29, which was fantastic except that the flights tended to be fully booked and often it would be days before there were enough no-shows for me to be squeezed in. In all my years of “space-available” travel, though, I managed to only once report late back to work, and that time it was actually the airline’s fault for misinforming me about a delay. Not that that excuse was well received.
On this particular visit, I was befriended by a white chicken. My parents ran a small apartment building on the main road into Bridgetown. They had their own bungalow at the back and a very large, lush garden, where I used to sunbathe. Bork, as you may have guessed was named for the sound she made, actually “Bork-Bork”, as in my father’s cartoon.
Just where Bork came from, we had no idea. She could well have been an escapee from fast food down the road. It was really my mother that she attached herself to, recognizing, no doubt, that she was the provider of all edibles. And as the chicken showed respect for my mother’s garden, Mum was amused by her and would toss her some scraps.
In those days and in those temperatures, doors and windows were opened at dawn and remained that way until bedtime. “My” bedroom door gave directly out to the yard and before long Bork was sitting on my bed and a couple of times left a contribution to her upkeep.
In the evening Bork would strut into the living room and join us. One of the tenants came by one night and seemed slightly bemused at the sight of a chicken joining our conversation. In fact my mother tried to ban Bork from the living room after she made a less useful contribution one day. Not wanting to close the front door, Mum opened up an umbrella to use as a barricade but Bork flew over the top, and what did it matter. It was easy enough to mop the floor.
It’s hard to believe that I was a sun-worshiper in those days, endlessly seeking to improve the complexion of my skin, never-mind that on a few occasions I had practically succeeded in burning it off. My parents would put their heads down for a siesta and I would lie in the noonday sun with a book. The day that inspired my father’s cartoon (sent to me as a birthday card), I looked up and saw Bork beside me with her feet in the air. I immediately dropped the book and jumped up, scaring the poor chicken half to death as she was in fact simply sun-bathing herself! I daresay this sounds a bit far-fetched but it is exactly what happened. Whether she was enjoying the sun or imitating me, I cannot say.
We grew fond of Bork, needless to say. After I returned to New York, my brother and his family arrived for a holiday and his two young kids were quite entertained by the little white chicken. But sadly the tale did not end well. It happened to be hurricane season and Barbados found itself in the path of a very bad storm. Exactly what happened, I don’t know, but it was the end of poor Bork. But 40 years later she has a cartoon and a blog dedicated to her.
The chicken story I was going to mention is actually about a modern chicken from Tenerife who went sailing around the world with a young French chap. I spotted the story the other day on the BBC website and, inevitably, there is a book. I can never pass up a book about any sort of creature, although these days I have to be careful to make sure it has a happy end. My stack of unread books grows ever taller, so the last thing I really need right now is another, but I can always find excuses.
As a child I spent some time in SE Asia with my parents and the countries being French-speaking, I soon became fluent. Working at an international airport gave me some opportunities to speak French, but really not nearly enough and in the way of a tool unused, it became very rusty. Why should it matter, one asks, and I don’t know. It’s just a form of knowledge, I suppose, that one does not want to lose.
Well that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. I decided I had to have the chicken book but I would buy the French edition to challenge myself!
The book, by the way “Guirec and Monique. A sailor, a chicken, an incredible voyage”, by Guirec Soudee, and you can find it on Facebook too. They are both cute!