Friday, 28 January 2011

Shaggy dog stories

I do like shaggy dog stories. You know, the sort that causes those who hear them to emit huge groans of exasperation (or relief that it's finally come to an end). Here are a couple I first heard a goodly number of years ago. The fact that I can remember them shows how much I enjoyed them the first time round - and they still make me smile. Given that they are both about chickens, perhaps I should describe them as shaggy chicken stories instead of shaggy dog, but let's just get on with it.
One day, as I was driving back to Brighton from London, I glanced in my rear-view mirror and saw a chicken running down the road behind me. I was doing close to the speed limit (70 mph) but this chicken managed to overtake me. As it ran past I noticed it had three legs. Intrigued, I followed it as it left the dual carriageway. It wasn't easy for me to keep it in sight along the winding country lanes but it finally ran into a farmyard. When I turned in, the chicken had vanished. Just as I got out of the car, an old boy came out of the nearby barn. I explained that I had been following a fast-running chicken with three legs, fully expecting him to call for the men in white coats.

'Oh arr,' he replied. 'Oi breed 'em.'


'Oi breed 'em. You see, there's the three of us - me, the missus and the boy - and when we have chicken for dinner we all like the legs and there's always a bit of a squabble over who goes without. So Oi decided to try breeding chickens with three legs.'

'So no more family rows!' I exclaimed. 'Well done. But tell me, do the three-legged birds taste any different?'

'I don't know,' replied the farmer. 'Oi haven't managed to catch one of the buggers yet.'
The next one is very old and dates to the days when "gay" meant "jolly". Perhaps it's a bit non-PC but no less funny for that.
Farmer Giles kept a few chickens and a cock in his yard but the cock was getting old and past his prime so Farmer Giles went along to the weekly market and bought a new, young cock from Farmer Bill. When he got home he put the cock in the yard with the other birds.

The old cock stalked up to the newcomer. 'I know what you're doing here,' he said. 'You are supposed to be my replacement and I'm going to get my neck wrung and end up in the pot. Well, if you think you can take over as easily as that you've got another think coming. We'll have a race round the yard and the winner gets to stay.'

The young cock accepted the challenge.

'Tell you what,' said the wily older bird, 'as I'm a bit older than you perhaps you could give me a bit of a start. Not too much of one, but just a little to make it a bit fairer.'

The young cock agreed and they set off round the yard. Seeing this, Farmer Giles grabbed up his shotgun. Bang! The young cock dropped dead.

Next market day Farmer Giles bought another cock from Farmer Bill, put it in the yard, and exactly the same thing happened. Bang! The young cock dropped dead.

Week three, and Farmer Giles tried again, only for exactly the same thing to happen. Mrs Giles was a bit bemused by all the shenanigans and asked her husband what was going on.

'I'm not buying any more birds from Bill,' he explained. 'The last three cocks he sold me have all been poofters.'

And if you think that's bad, just you wait till Sunday!

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