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The Day Before Yesterday: 61 -Killing The Cockerel

Gladys Schofield tells of a cockerel grown too b ig for its boots which met its match.

To read earlier chapters of Gladys's autobiography please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/the_day_before_yesterday/

My dear brother John decided it was his time to become a hero and joined the Navy as soon as he was eighteen. As soon as he had finished his basic training, he was home on embarkation leave just forty eight hours. Lena and John got a special licence and got married. Just a quiet little family affair, they were trying as so many more to snatch a little happiness while they could. John was always a joy to be around. He made light and joked about everything. You had to look very deep to see how he really felt and I knew him more than most. I was a witness at his wedding and knew this was going to be another little heartbreak we would all be forced to share.

Sweets were rationed too, a mixed blessing really, children's teeth and gums were stronger and they had less fillings. They were allowed a certain amount of sweet coupons per month and some would spend the whole lot in the first week. We were lucky as the men in uniform got a ration too and Cliff saved his and always had a few bars of chocolate for Alan, each time he managed to get home.

If there was going to be a wedding, families would pool their clothes coupons so the Bride could have a bridal gown and people pooled their sugar and butter rations also for a little celebration.

My chooks always dropped off laying about September every year, not completely or all at once but this was the time they lost a lot of their old feathers and slowly grew fresh ones again. Some looked very cold as though they were half plucked and as the weather got colder, would spend most of their days on the perch looking sorry for themselves. They also lost the bright colours in their comb and the brightening of this again, was a sure sign that a hen was coming out of the moult as it was called and would soon be producing eggs again.

I needed to get enough eggs to make my Christmas cakes as I sent a cake to Reg, as well as Cliff. Christmas parcels were good for morale for the troops, just a few little home comforts when they were far away. My chooks never let me down, first one and then another would start to lay again, until they were all in full production by Christmas.

Cliff sometimes managed Christmas leave and other times he came in the New Year, just the luck of the draw and occasionally we saw Reg and his friend for the weekend. One time they turned up unexpected and I was wondering how to feed the hefty young fellows. I still had one of the young cockerels, he had grown into a handsome cock and was already taking more than an interest in my female brood. I wonder, I thought, how good Reg is at cooling the ardour of the prancing pest and thought I would put it too him.

"Are you any good at killing a cockerel?" I asked him as casually as I could.

"Well," said Reg, "I've never tried. I don't think I can wring its neck." Paddy agreed it was something they just had not done.

I looked at the two of them, they had just gone through intensive training. They looked fit and alert and ready to face any enemy. Surely they were not afraid of mastering a cockerel, who'd grown too big for his boots but not for the pot.

Reg sensed my disappointment and rose from the settee to size up the situation. Whether it was the look in the cockerels eye as it found an intruder in his territory, as he ruffled his neck feathers and stood his ground or maybe just my disappointment but still eyeing each other from a short distance he said "Have you got a hatchet Glad?"

"Yes," said I "it's in the barn. Shall I fetch it?"

"Please," replied Reg.

We watched the next move with great interest, not knowing who was master of this challenge. Reg with one swoop grabbed the neck of the bird with one hand and the hatchet in the other and had it beheaded in one quick movement. The poor bird thought it was still alive and ran around headless for quite a few seconds afterwards.

He had met his match with Reg who had solved the dinner problems.

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