A fabulous time was had sitting in the garden with our neighbours Anna and Chris from number 1 and Neil and Antonia from number 4 until 2.30am. The following day I spent in brushed cotton pyjamas drinking lots of tea because it was freezing and the usual rain had ensued. At some point in the early afternoon I ventured into the garden to fetch the Prosecco corks, the soggy napkins and the miserable tea light candles drowned forever in the day-after rain.


I jumped out of my skin. A chicken flew into the alleyway at the back. I put my detective hat on and immediately phoned my friend Lynne from the houses that back onto ours. “Lynne, have you lost a chicken?” “I might have. Nic and I had some new rescue girls arrive today, but my head’s currently in a drain.” I didn’t ask why her head was in a drain but nevertheless Nicola arrived. There’s a bit of wild land between her house and Lynne’s house, and that’s where they keep the hens.

“I’m here to fetch her,” Nic whispered gently. I lived in London too many years to do gentle animal voices, but I was impressed with Nic’s. Of course. Keep calm. That’ll stop her clucking off down the alley. Only it didn’t, did it? Mrs. Hen, now named Queen Bea because she’s a bossy old bird, hid for 20 minutes in Bruce from number 5’s outdoor shed where he smoked cigars during lockdown.

Eventually we rescued the clucking rescue-chicken, and a delighted Nicola returned Queen Bea back to her new home and I returned to my pyjama cosiness and Assam tea for comfort.

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May 23, 2023 — Deborah Price