IN DEFENCE OF CHICKENS

That front page Royal Gazette picture of a Bermuda cow and several wild chickens set me thinking. With Bermuda’s cows cowering from attacks by squadrons of wild chickens; with the Royal Gazette headlining that political slogan made famous by British Prime Minister Harold MacMillan that: “We’ve never had it so good”; it’s obvious that nowadays, in Bermuda, things are different.
In 1928, US Presidential candidate Herbert Hoover promised his fellow Americans that there would be “a chicken in every pot and a car in every garage”.  Herbert would be proud of our Bermudian ‘silver spoon society’. Us ‘silver spoon’ Bermudians are so rich that we look down our Bermudian noses at chickens and their eggs and don’t bother to put chickens in pots anymore. Kentucky Fried and Four Star are easier and Stouffer’s and Swanson’s are quicker. A car in every garage? Our national Bermuda complaint is that we have too many cars. But ours is a strangely rich society.
Our Bermuda is being terrorized by ‘tailed bands’ of wild chickens, led, I hear, by Chief Chicken “Eggsama bin Layin”. Persons in government, perhaps thinking of themselves as little Dubya Bush’s, are contemplating mounting a ‘chicken war’ to get rid of this “Al Croweda”. Apparently we’re not planning to eat them. We’re just going to kill them. Exterminate them.
In other parts of the world, in other times, chicken is, or would be, a sought after food. Their eggs would be a means to help ward off hunger. Chickens certainly wouldn’t be treated as pests. They’d be considered a valuable food source. But here, in our ‘silver spoon’ Bermuda, we have choices – strange choices.
I recall fishermen blowing their conch horns and wheeling their fish-filled wheelbarrows through my North Shore neighbourhood. I recall accompanying my mother to see what the fisherman had for sale that day. My mother would sometimes buy a lobster – or two. But lobster wasn’t her first choice. In those days, lobster was considered a low grade eating item – almost a ‘trash’ fish. Lobster generally sold cheap.

I can remember my mother tying up the lobster and dropping it in the pot. So, as a boy, I ate lobster. I ate it because it was cheap. I liked lobster. Nowadays, even though we’ve never had it so good, I don’t eat lobster. It’s much too expensive. Quite a flip from a long time ago.
Cars? The just out people census and the always out TCD vehicle count tell us that Bermuda now has more motorized vehicles – cars, trucks, vans, big buses, medium buses, minibuses, motor cycles, scooters, and mopeds  – than people. And we have fast ferries…and slow ones too!
So here we are. Sitting pretty. The world’s only ‘silver spoon society’. From the ethnic cleansing of Tucker’s Town in 1920 to 2002, we Bermudians have enjoyed more than eighty unbroken years of economic prosperity and growth. Despite an intervening and bloody World War, despite a long Cold War, despite the evils of segregation and racism; we Bermudians have had more than a lifetime of unparalleled growth. And we Bermudians have the ‘silver spoons’ to show for it.
So amidst all our Christmas bonhomie, and during our traditional political Christmas truce, let’s all count the chickens – and our blessings. Don’t just go ‘potting’ the birds! First drive or ride around and count ‘em. This scourge of wild Bermuda fowl is living proof that we’ve ‘got it good’.  Real good.

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