DO YOU go to your daughter’s hen party is the burning social question of the hour. Sally’s is on August 22 and I’ve decided against it but as I got an invite from the (male) friend who’s organising it I feel she’ll be disappointed and angry if I don’t. She obviously gave him my name and email. “Oh don’t worry about that,” she says when I give her the devastating news. “It would look a bit odd now I think about it. You would be the only one there over 40.” Phew – that’s a relief.

Meanwhile Harry has a hen party all of his own. While Ian’s wrestling with the hosepipe in a bid to water the garden – why on earth it’s as dry as dust when it hasn’t stopped raining since March is one of life’s little mysteries – he accidentally leaves the back gate open for all of two minutes and we quickly discover the male border terrorist has disappeared. Sally and Ian set out in search of him only to receive a report from a woman on the corner that she’s heard a commotion from next door’s hen house where – surprise surprise – Harry is spotted. Lurking, but remarkably bloodless and not a feather on his cheek. However, further investigation and a knock on the door of the owner of the hen coup reveals a scene from the Chainsaw Massacre with dead hens littering the garden. “It was awful. She just kept pulling them out of the bushes,” says Sally. The lady in question is understanding and we offer to pay. At first she refuses all offer of compensation (which we think won’t be that much, considering the Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall furore over Tesco’s £3 chickens) but eventually she presents us with the awful truth: these were, wouldn’t you know it, specialist chickens; four at £15 and two at £10, a total of £80. She sends a nice note explaining that she doesn’t expect us to pay it all, and certainly not immediately, and telling us where we can check the prices. We don’t: she just looks trustworthy. So we pay up and put Harry out to stud to pay the bill. Or would if he had any *****. Just enough to chase a chicken, it seems.


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