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Motor Mouth articles 2009

The curious tale of a stowaway hen


So what’s all the fuss about?


NEWS has reached the Motor Mouth nerve centre of an odd occurrence involving a town in the Midlands, a woman driver and a mystery chicken.

It may sound like the sort of rambling joke an old-style stand-up comedian might tell in a smoke-logged workingmen’s club in Accrington, but I’m assured it’s a true story.

A woman driver took her car into a garage in Wednesbury, evidently one of the jewels of an obscure English region known as the West Midlands, complaining about starting problems and a strange noise emanating from the engine area.

Quick as a flash, the mechanic (probably called Dave but the news bulletin doesn’t tell us) lifted the bonnet and discovered a chicken staring back at them. Not in nugget form or Kentucky fried – this one was alive and kicking and in rude health.

Amid a welter of side-splitting and wholly original word plays involving ‘hengines’ and ‘eggstrordinary’ and ‘fowl play’, the news bulletin reveals that the chicken was totally unharmed and was clucking happily. I wonder how unhappy chickens cluck?

Anyway, back to the story: the motorist told staff at the garage that she had absolutely no idea how the stowaway had got into her engine compartment, nor where she could have picked it up.

“I haven’t been near a farm or anywhere you might usually see a chicken. It’s a complete mystery,” she declared. Do they have farms in the West Midlands then?

The chicken has now found itself a new home at a smallholding owned by one of the firm’s mechanics and, presumably, the lady’s car is running more smoothly. Unless it’s a Metro, of course.

Whether or not the story is accurate or even true, I couldn’t be sure, but it reminds me of a not dissimilar tale that befell a friend of mine some years ago.

He had no sooner set off on a longish trip when he noticed a loud squeaking noise coming from under the bonnet at the front – and as he was driving a rear-engined Volkswagen Beetle, it was curious indeed.

Like the lady from Wednesbury, he was not one of life’s more practical-minded souls so, after racking up 40 or so squeak-accompanied miles, he stopped at a garage to seek help.

And when the mechanic took a look, out jumped a large, furious, slightly embarrassed cat. Its eyes were as wide as dustbin lids and its demeanour was definitely threatening.

With the aid of the garage staff, my pal managed to subdue the snarling beast, forced it into a wooden crate that the garage kindly provided, and drove 40 miles back home to return his next-door neighbour’s moggie to its rightful owner.



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