My mother keeps a number of fowls and as children they were our pets. I actually used to carry round an armful of cocks (boom boom) and they ALL had names (although I can assure you, none of them were called Ralph - which you will only 'get' if you've read Judy Blume's 'Forever'). Who on earth calls their penis Ralph? If you know a man who has (or in fact are a man who has), then please, write in - I'm eager to hear from you (I think).
Anyway I had no Ralphs but I had a lot of others. Some names were, I admit, more imaginative than others. My favourite was Ficus Benjamina, which is Latin for 'Weeping Fig' - so named because it got sick and had to be kept in a box next to a plant of the same name. Or Fireball - named after a song we had to sing in Drama at school about the onset of a nuclear holocaust. Clearly it must have made a deep impression on my young mind for me to name a chicken after it. If you don't know it, and I am willing to believe that it was not popular in the majority of schools, it goes something like:
'Fireball, burning in the sky, building every higher, are we gonna die? ARE WE GONNA DIE!?'.
What the hell is wrong with 10 Green Bottles I really don't know.
Then there was a whole raft of fowls named after TV/film characters. We had Dot and Ethel (after the two old birds on Eastenders), Bill and Ted etc etc.
And then, well then there were the unfortunates who were merely named for the physical attributes. For example:
- Chunky (who was, surprise surprise - a bit chunky)
- The Beautiful One (guess what? She was beautiful!)
- The Runt (who was, erm, small)
- Peahead (who had a small, pea-like head)
- The Pale One (who was pale - and got hit and killed by a car, prompting me to write a very maudlin poem called 'Ode to the Pale One'. No, I don't still have it but I think it started something like 'I saw your body, pale, lying on the road. Time froze, my grief rose'. I don't think it was up there with Byron or Shelley but it helped me with my grief. I seem to remember long hours sat in my bedroom listening to Guns 'n' Roses 'November Rain' and crying over the chicken's demise. I'm not sure Axel Rose was writing about a dead hen but it certainly expressed my mood)
- Turkey Features (guess what! She looked a bit like a turkey!);
- and best of all 'Non-Descript - who had no outstanding features whatsoever and was rather dull as a consequence.
So when we had a baby cockerel who cracked out of his egg on Easter day, what did we call him?
You have to remember we were only children and my mother had clearly given up trying to rein in the chicken names by this point. Which is probably why, when we had a small group of young cockerels (cockerels are male chickens if you don't know a lot about fowls - which I've been shocked to discover, many people don't) who all started having rampant sex with eachother (and the cat) my brother and I named them 'The Gays'.
And so came the fateful day when the Vicar's Wife came round to deliver the Parish newsletter and my mother invited her in for a quick chat. Que a small girl (i.e. me) running in to the Living Room shouting 'Mum! Mum! Come quick! The Gays are in the garden and they're trying to have sex with Jesus! You need to get the broom!'.
To say a look of great bemusement crossed the Vicar's wife's face would be something of an understatement.
My poor mum knocked back her tea and said 'oh don't worry, Jesus is a cockerel!'.
Because that really explains it all doesn't it?
I'm sure the Vicar's Wife would have loved to have asked who/what 'The Gays' were but I'm guessing she was afraid to ask.
Needless to say, we weren't invited to her Summer Garden Party.
Gawd, it must have been a laugh a minute mothering me.
So on that note, have a Happy Easter but be very careful how you let your children name your pets.