Gallus Gallus Domesticus

Never been a fan but I used to be able to take or leave chooks.

Even quite enjoyed watching my Great Aunt Aggie’s bantams scratching around the farmyard and always appreciated the eggs. But, for some reason, chicken meat and I did not interact too often in my formative years. I remember grey mince and tough slices of beef and/or pork but I really don’t recall chicken impinging too often in my youth and childhood.

Anyhow, it came to be 1963 and I was 14 years old. Able to work and  earn money in the school holidays. One of the major employers in the Perth area was Marshalls (the Chunky Chicken Champions).

So, one bright Easter morning, I boarded a bus with about 40 other Perth Academicians and hoved off northwards to Coupar Angus. On arrival, we were swiftly sorted. The girls were led off to do what girls were deemed to be capable of doing in those days – it was a different world and I am glad it has gone.

The boys were lined up and we were asked if anybody fancied trying a bit of evisceration. As it happened, I was the only person present who was in the Latin stream and I had a bad feeling. My hand stayed firmly down and I felt justified when the volunteers were handed elbow-length rubber gloves and led off to a life of entrails scooping.

They then asked if anybody fancied outdoor work. I thought ‘Why not?’ and stuck my hand up. They picked the four tallest including me.

Outdoor work turned out to involve getting picked up at 2 am and driven around the East of Scotland in a van with psychopaths.We would arrive at a broiler house and start picking up the chickens to cram them into cages for transportation to the factory for throat slitting and evisceration – 4 chickens in each hand, picked up by a leg and passed through a hatch to be crammed into a cage of 16 birds. They had been reared in the dark and squatted down as soon as the lights were switched on. The psychos stole the accepted percentage and hid them under the seats in the van. On the way home, they would bring them out, pull their heads off and throw said heads at us intellectuals. Endless hours of fun!

To be fair, the money was really good and I was home and free by about 11 am every day. So, I stuck to it. My favourite memory will always be the time that they sent us to clear a shed of cockerels. Raised in natural light and full of serious male aggression. When the doors of said shed were opened, the bastards charged us.  I do not blame them.

The end result, however, is that I have never since, do not, and never will eat chicken.

So, last Monday I went to a local discount store to replenish my supplies of suet pellets and dried mealworms for my wild bird visitors – sparrows, dunnocks, starlings, blue tit, chaffinches, robin, blackbirds, pigeons and sparrowhawk at the latest census.

As I pushed my trolley towards the bird food aisle, I spotted a really good deal for Heinz Tomato Soup. £2.00 for 6 cans. I lobbed them into said trolley.

Only to find when I got home that I had inadvertently picked up 6 cans of Heinz Chicken Soup. Given that Mrs M. is a vegetarian, we now have 6 cans of soup that will outlast us.

I just hope that our heirs will appreciate them in due course.

16 thoughts on “Gallus Gallus Domesticus”

  1. Please JM, don’t ever do that again, never ever!!!

    I don’t suppose you have a clue what you’ve done, do you? Well, I’ll tell you. You copied and pasted 5 or 6 of your old posts and then put your new one at the top. You had many, many HTML div tags at the top, too. And in the middle, the end and quite a few places in between.

    The result was a Chariot home page in the wrong format which consisted of nothing but your posts, over and over again.

    I’ve just spent over half an hour cleaning the whole mess up so that the Chariot can become the Chariot again. Phew!


    Grr!! 😎

  2. Fine that, Bearsy. And sorry.

    It’s been a while since I posted a blog hereon (July of last year it would appear). WordPress seems to be working a wee thing different since then.

    I admit to cutting and pasting this post from my own site. Did not intend to C&P anything more. If I did, sorry again. But don’t really think I can be held guilty of intentionally embedding HTML since I have no idea how to do that.

    I promise you that I checked what I had published more than several times and could not work out what had gone wrong. I did, of course, realise that something had definitely gone pear-shaped.

    I accept your condemnatory Grr! as being totally appropriate in the circumstances.

    BUT THERE’S NO NEED TO SHOUT AT ME, in my opinion. These things happen.

    Anyhow, sorry once again.

  3. “It’s a long way from Brissie to Embra . . . ” [slight misquote of John Denver] – so shouting seemed entirely appropriate.

  4. “The girls were led off to do what girls were deemed to be capable of doing in those days – it was a different world and I am glad it has gone.”
    “Raised in natural light and full of serious male aggression. When the doors of said shed were opened, the bastards charged us. ”

    Boys will be girls but a cock is always a cock.

  5. The irony in all of this, Prasutagus (that’s a toughie to spell) is he has the cheek to put a double Gallus in the title. Gallus is a weegie word meaning bold , daring , just gie the baw tae me.

    I’ll be up for those soups later. And as we’re talking consumerism the McEwan’s Export are £4.40 for 4 cans. That deserves a Grr!!

  6. And if the offer was on tomato soup only, you had to pay more than £2. And we Scots are meant to be canny with our cash! I don’t think Mrs M should let you out shopping on your own again.

  7. Haw JW. I knew you’d appreciate the gallus reference. Double gallus is, of course, galluses and I thought you might comment on that as well – for non-Jocks, gallus is what he said it is but galluses is our word for braces.

    Sheona, may you be forgiven! The £2.oo offer was across the whole Heinz soup range and, as I always do as a careful Scot, I checked the till receipt at the time to make sure that I had been charged the right amounts for all my purchases. All it said was Heinz soup x 6.

  8. When we were young chicken was very expensive, probably why you had it rarely.
    I grew up with chickens, we had a dozen for eggs and a small flock for eating. I used to get half a crown a week for cleaning them out their living quarters, considering 10 Embassy cost 2s/3p at the time, a pretty crap deal!
    I also did the gutting, mum plucked but I gutted, never worried me too much. They had a very good life with us, free range, well fed and had a good home in a barn.
    We had one interesting hen, she escaped all culls of old egg layers by flying off and sitting in a damson tree. Never could get near her to clip her wings. She rejoiced under the name of ‘Independent Hen’ Used to stomp around terrorising the dogs. She used to march into the back door and give the dogs the eyeball, as if to say”try me” before she would fill up on their Winalot kibble. They studiously studied the paintwork carefully not seeing a chicken! She died of old age in the end. She must have been 12 years old plus. One could always hear her in the house as her claws made tapping noises on the floor. We just left her to it.

    The less said about canned Heinz soup the better! Of any variety. I don’t think it actually qualifies as food.

  9. ‘Blond genug’ is Danish and means fair enough, in case you were wondering.

    CO, your chooks had a good life? I suppose they were involved in feeding the family but not as committed as the porkers.

  10. j, the old girl used to cook them up layers mash with the household scraps every day. Believe you me, they had a very good life, like the dogs and the goats. i remember the goats having something hideously akin to muesli every day. I have never been able to eat it myself as an adult as it looks like goat food to me!

  11. When I were a lad. my Dad and my uncle, who had been brought up on a farm, kept chickens in a chicken run in our back garden. (My uncle lived nearby but had a smaller garden). As Mrs O says, chicken meat was expensive in them thar days and we were luck y to have chicken more often than many neighbours. (No cockerels so few complaints of noise).

    One of my chores was to feed the chickens which, in general, I enjoyed. However, there was one hen how must have been a feminist, because every time I opened up and put the feed into the run, she came flying (not literally ) at me trying to get a peck or two in if she could.

    I begged my dad to let me be the one to wring her neck when the time came. I was about 8 years old a the time. My Dad said OK, but my Mum, who was a townie girl, thought this was a bit much in a youngster so put her foot down and I was barred from the ceremony. I did help gut her though and she was one of the best Christmas dinners I have ever had!!

  12. More history. My oldest memories of roast chicken involve Sunday lunch at my grandparents’. They had friends on the Pershore Road who were farmers, supplying off-ration treats for the family quite often.

  13. Like a number of others here , I also remember that when I was young chicken was not on many tables – it was one of those meats that it was on the menu only at Christmas.

    Odd really, when one considers how easy it would have been for people to have kept a hen or two in the back yard – but maybe Londoners and other townies never thought about such things.

    I have to say that it was not a rarity in my childhood home – my mother worked in catering – and chicken was not a particular delicacy. She brought home a great variety of foodstuffs. My dog at the time, a pekingese, would not eat anything but chicken. Almost as food-fussy as I was!

    I can understand, JM, why you have forsworn eating chicken after your experience. I think that very few animals destined for the table are treated particularly well.

    I have to own to being a bit of a hypocrite – I do buy free range chickens, eggs, and pork – but I love those products far too much to become a vegetarian or a vegan.

  14. JM – I so love the way you tell a story. I remember as a schoolboy, a boy from a Peabody Estate had a chicken foot/claw which he opened and shut by pulling what I assume were the tendons which hung loose. Disgusting and fascinating at the same time!

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