After I shut the computer down for the night ideas often occur; it’s as if they
are somehow shy, or allergic to machines. Rather than switch the thing on
again, I take Hamish outside and look up. I see the tubes blinking as they
fall towards the ground and think how thankful I am not to be approaching the
end of a long flight. Travel and computers enrich our lives; quiet and
crickets also. They’re a better preparation for going to sleep than any
Like these ones: Mimo, being orange about the body, has taken on some of the
animal spirit of our nation’s leader. This is a hard realization to live with,
one which causes a person to reflect on the strange sequence of events that led
to this moment. How on earth did Mimo come to be top chicken after being given
up for dead? How is it that an animal that has had all provided and been
treated generously should come to her current extreme level of selfishness?
Where is the profit in declaring that everything is hers when she has to roost
the whole night through with others? Eventually, like all of us, she must die.
But you wouldn’t know it from her demeanor.
In the morning I stepped outside to drop a spider I’d caught in the house.
Unfortunately I didn’t know Mimo was in the bushes. She did her usual “me
first” sprint to the prey and gobbled.
Resurrection has been on my mind not only because of Mimo’s history; hereabouts
the process now extends to inanimate objects. I managed to get the moribund
thirty-year-old Jacuzzi to heat up, and then the jets began working, something
that hasn’t happened in years. By what mechanical miracle did I achieve this?
Years ago I was taught elementary car mechanics by a guy who’d been in the
army. We measured the gap in plugs, sanded off rust, checked the leads,
changed oil… that sort of thing. Mostly on Landrovers. The maxim I recall
from those days is, “If all else fails, check the electrical connections and
then bang everything with a spanner.” It worked on the tub’s gubbins.
A friend said that he’d really believe in resurrection only when he hears that
the Neverbudge has motored out of the yard.
There are words you don’t expect to hear from a chicken, words that seem alien
to their nature. “I couldn’t eat another bite,” are among these. It’s
possible you’ve never seen a stuffed chicken, a *live* stuffed chicken. We had
guests last weekend who arrived with a Costco tray of macaroni and cheese.
It’s not a dish I like and they didn’t put much of a dent in the supply either.
Hamish got some, but eventually the choice was chicken food or trash. I put
the tray out on the patio. Unfortunately the chickens had already had
breakfast from the container on the other side of the house, so when they
rounded the corner at the top of the steps thanks were not among what thoughts
“Nobody said there was going to be a bloody buffet.”
It was she who gets last access to everything—Pecorino—who said she couldn’t
eat another bite. They sat down beneath the oak-leafed hydrangea. While I
swept the patio clean of droppings and detritus I heard, “How about now?”
It was fully twenty minutes before they struggled over to the pasta to try a
bite. By evening it was all gone. I think Hamish got most of it.
When my mother was dying I did what I could to come to understand systems the
NHS devised, which were hard to parse. As my father approaches death, little
has changed. There's much talk of meetings and goals and “teams” sharing
information, but C.Y.A. is the order of the day. Two people have advised that
I should fly across immediately and somehow help.
“How?” is my question.
And when, exactly?
There's a good episode of Q. I. in which chicken houses on Easter Island
feature. They resemble burial structures from five to three thousand years
B.C. we saw on Orkney, umpteen thousand miles away. Now there’s a connection
to consider long before sleep.