Dom Joly: Could a 50ft chicken stop Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen?


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There's something weird going on at the farm up the hill again. Long-time readers of this column might remember events of the summer of 2004, in which I suspected that this farmer was rearing 50ft chickens in the enormous barns that he takes great care to conceal in the woods on the back of his property. I reported my suspicions, but no action was taken and I was forced to let the matter lie. One of the reasons for this cul-de-sac was that there wasn't really anyone that relevant to whom to address concerns such as, "I believe my neighbour to be raising 50ft chickens."

I rang the council, who passed me round various departments until I ended up speaking to someone in parking enforcement who told me that, unless these over-sized chickens were driving cars and parking them illegally, then there was very little that he could do to help. That's the problem with councils – they are so rigidly bureaucratic that they are useless when dealing with anything out of the ordinary.

Anyhow, I was driving back home from the weekly meeting of the Stop Llewelyn-Bowen Society in the local pub. Kate Moss had come up with a particularly cunning plan that involved inviting him to be guest speaker at a fictitious event next Christmas. We would take him hostage and hold him over the whole Christmas period, thus preventing him from decorating Cirencester with unnecessary gaudiness. Ruby Wax and Gary Kemp volunteered to run the snatch squad and plans are well under way.

Anyway, I was driving back and had just reached the brow of the hill overlooking the village when I happened to look to my right, in the direction of the farm, and I spotted some strange blue lights. I parked up and snuck across a couple of fields until I was right on the edge of the farmer's woods. Something was going on in the barns but the doors were shut tight and I couldn't get a good look inside. Not only that, but the farmer now has three rather vicious dogs and they soon picked up my scent, forcing me to beat a hasty retreat back to my car.

Once again I rang the council and passed on my suspicions that the farmer was up to no good. This time I ended up with a lady in the council-tax department. She wanted to know what made me think the farmer was breeding 50ft chickens? Had I seen one? I admitted that I had not seen one, but that Mortimer, the local poacher, had been in the village babbling away about seeing some giant chickens, but, as Mortimer makes his own scrumpy, he had been ignored.

The lady in council tax told me that there was nothing she could do to help me. "Anyway," she added, "is it illegal to breed 50ft chickens? I rather think it is not." I have no idea where the law stands on this kind of stuff but surely farmers can't just conduct weird genetic experiments as they please? I, for one, don't want these huge, feathery bastards to suddenly break loose and wreak havoc on the village.

I bumped into Mortimer yesterday, and he is up for a late-night mission to go and see exactly what is in those barns. If I'm honest, I'd rather not go with Mortimer as he can be a little unpredictable at times. Something spooked him at the village fête and he ended up pushing the vicar into the river before running off shouting, "I've put him out, I've put him out....". Still, I don't have much choice and he's certainly very good at crawling around in the dark. I've asked him not to bring his shotgun, so hopefully things won't get too out of control.

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