Farmer's eggstraordinary success

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Why did the Essex chicken farmer cross the Atlantic? Because there was a 3,000-strong reception, stretch limo and state troopers on the other side.

Bill Brown found fame when his chickens started laying misshaped eggs. There were flat-bottomed ones, pear-shaped ones, banana-shaped ones and wrinkled ones; square ones, indented ones and one-inside-the-other ones.

It was a straightforward case of cause and effect - or chicken farmer and egg, even.

RAF aircrafts fly over a farm at 600mph, only 25ft from the ground, prompting chickens to lay eggs in all shapes and sizes. Reporters at Mississippi's Radio Miss 103 get wind of the goings-on at Thorpe Road Chicken Farm, in Little Clacton, Essex, and hey presto, Mr Brown becomes "Uncle Bill", international commentator, charity worker and honorary ambassador.

"I insult the Americans left, right and centre," said Mr Brown, 59, yesterday, explaining why he is such a big hit in the US. "I tell them how tight they are. I say: 'You people don't know if there's another world out there. You go over the border and you get a nose bleed'.

"And I get a little bit saucy sometimes. One morning, on air, I said: 'Cor, ain't it bloody hot.' The radio station was jammed with people ringing up asking me to say: 'bloody' again."

The locals can't get enough of him, he says. "It's embarrassing," he said. "I walk into a restaurant and before I've sat down there's a placard in the window saying: 'Uncle Bill's eating in the house.'"

In just an hour and a half, he can raise pounds 65,000 for charity. His only regret is that his broadcasts doesn't work the same wonders back home. "It's a shame I have to go 6,000 miles to do it."