Few conversations in life bring smaller return than talking to chickens about
the cost of food.
“You may have wondered where food comes from,” I began.
Mimo, “Oh no, we know that.”
Appenzeller, “We find it.”
Peccorino, “Takes a lot of work.”
Cheddar, “Scratching and pecking are the two main techniques. We notice that
you don’t use either.”
“That because I buy food, with money.”
“Oh,” said, Mimo, “you must get that in the front garden. We don’t go there.”
“It doesn’t grow in the front garden; I have to work for it.”
Cheddar, “Do you scratch?”
Pecorino, “Or peck?”
It been a strange period in regard to money. In the pouring rain, we left for
California. Out the car window we saw someone pick up a wallet in the college
parking lot. He didn’t immediately go to the security guards, so I made
inquiries when I returned. Had anyone reported losing a wallet? No one had,
so I assume that it was returned to its rightful owner; art students are
generally kind to one another. We arrived in California and drove to our
hotel. More rain. Another wallet in that parking lot. We turned this one into
the hotel’s front desk. And then the next day, crossing a yet another parking
lot—this one dry-- I found a folded dollar. I suppose the rain causes people
to rush and drop things.
On our return I opened the mail to find that our bank account is being
re-named. My checking account is now a “Classic.” Another piece of mail,
another bank. Same deal; this time the account is “Premier.” No change to
terms or conditions, which means they get to keep my money and continue to pay
0.00000006 % interest, or thereabouts. Imagine humble folk with regular
The same title inflation happened at work. A colleague, once a mere associate
professor, has started a one-person program. She is now an Executive Vice
President, or some such thing. Maybe I should try this on the chickens? Call
myself something classical. Zeus maybe?
“What ho, girls, I’ve decided you should call me Zeus.”
“Suess seems closer to the truth."
It would have been some time in 1971. Seeing a sign that said there would be a
party at the monastery, I had put on my magenta satin trousers and aftershave,
and walked up the road hoping that some girl might want to dance with a guy in
a new Ben Sherman shirt, yellow with pink stripes. The first clue was total
darkness. Everyone had gone to his cell, or wherever it is that Hadlow Holy
Ghosters sleep. No bop, no bee, no monks raising funds. Bowie was gone from
Beckenham, the Stones, from Eltham. The Police, probably about my age, not
even formed in Brighton. Some nights just aren’t right for rolling, holy or no.
Imagine a culture, a nation say. After it ended up on the winning side in a
big war people thought, “Yeah, that’s us, winners.” And they kept on thinking
that because they had won, they were meant to keep on winning. “Everyone loves
a winner,” became the mantra, “it’s what we do.” Imagine people who haven’t
done so well. They root for the underdog on days when they feel that way. But
they also like all the trappings of a winner, the scarves, classic banking
accounts and washing machines and so on. They feel torn. Which would they
prefer? All of this you’ve noted. So here’s the question. How do people
react when the winner stumbles? How great does anyone think that might be?
And yes, as several of you pointed out, last week I should have written,
“Princess and the Pea.” You sussed out the Suess in me.
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