The Good Life: Four Angry Chickens
A high profile court case uncovers fowl deeds. By our court reporter.
A chicken accused by her flatmates of being “a complete cow” has been found guilty at the High Court of Lush Places.
The Crown said that the chicken, known by the nom de plumage “Little Linda”, had for the last year and a half embarked on a campaign of chasing and pecking her flatmates, as well as stealing their food, creating a culture of fear and moaning in the Lush Places chicken run.
Little Linda’s barrister, played by Henry Fonda, said she had been bullied as a chick and, now that she was bigger than everyone else, was entitled to do whatever the hell she wanted.
The jury of Michele, Greg, Xanthe and Elizabeth Jane retired to consider their verdicts on Thursday morning, deliberating for about five minutes before Xanthe and Elizabeth Jane wandered off.
Apart from loud calls for more sheep nuts, the courtroom was still as the unanimous verdicts was delivered.
Little Linda’s flatmates, Catherine and the so-called “Golden Girls”, Joanna and the Prime Minister, perched in the gallery after testifying earlier in the week. Between preening and moaning, they appeared emotionless as Xanthe, the jury foresheep, said the word “guilty” in response to the charges of assault with a beak and demanding food with menaces.
Justice Harland David Sanders, a retired colonel, then called for a report into Little Linda’s finger lickin’ goodness or badness, a matter of some debate during the trial.
Little Linda has been remanded in custody, and is due to be sentenced before she starts laying again.
The charges carry a maximum sentence of being roasted with potatoes and carrots at 180 degrees celsius for an hour and half, or 30 minutes for every 500 grams.
The Crown’s Case
The Crown contended Little Linda had been in a dysfunctional relationship with her flatmates, one marred by jealousy and cliquishness, ever since Little Linda had grown from a pullet into the biggest hen who laid the biggest eggs.
While a young chicken, Little Linda had been at the bottom of the pecking order. But when she was big enough, instead of taking her place among equals, she was seized by “a desire for vengeance” and went on “a rampage of revenge-pecking and food stealing unlike anything this country has seen before”.
After repeated complaints by flatmates, their landlords testified that they had intervened at meal times by serving the four flatmates food in as many as four separate bowls to prevent Little Linda “behaving like Attila the hen”.
Under cross-examination by Mr Fonda, the landlords admitted that all of the flatmates were guilty of stealing each other’s food, especially if the meal included prawn tails or a pork chop, but asserted that only Little Linda demanded food with menaces “including threats to come in our house and poo on the carpet if we did not give her more than the others”.
The final straw for the flatmates and landlords was over summer, when Little Linda began bullying her flatmates outside of meal times, including when the four were allowed to free range in the Lush Places garden.
Boris Johnson, for the Crown, concluded that “as our friend Cicero might have said, this case features the most outrageous incidences of gallinae lacerabunt* in legal history”.
Justice Sanders described Little Linda’s defence as that of a proud chicken who believed fiercely that “might is right”, and in the law of the jungle, “if the jungle was a very pretty chicken run in the Wairarapa”.
Mr Fonda said Little Linda was the product of a troubled chickhood. When the four moved to Lush Places, she had been the youngest and smallest, and her flatmates had chased her for fun, and mocked her with the sobriquet “Little”, even after she was fully grown.
He said Little Linda was fully within her rights to give as good as she’d been given, and her flatmates were simply jealous character assassins.
Mr Fonda concluded his closing address with the question he said was at the heart of the case: “Lady, Gentleman and sheep of the jury, I implore you to consider what came first: this poor chicken’s behaviour or her egg-regious treatment?”
The jury were unmoved by the argument. Justice Sanders ruled the pun in contempt of court.
* hen pecking