Week two of Operation Rhalou in the wilderness and I seem to be settling into country life okay. Thankfully last week’s Chickengate was solved by a quick visit to the local donkey sanctuary that doubles up as a chicken petting zoo. They kindly took Monty the evil ginger cock off our hands in exchange for three considerably less threatening Silkie chickens, who I’ve collectively christened Chaka Khan.
Curiously, since we waved goodbye to Monty, his fellow rooster Freddie has stepped up to alpha mode and started lording it about the garden. What is it about men? Even in chicken form must they be forever locked in an archaic battle for supremacy?
I was hoping to have something a bit more rock ‘n’ roll to blog about this week than poultry. Life may be quiet in the country, but chickens alone are not enough to sustain a blog. Unless you write a blog specifically about chickens that is, in which case, my apologies, chickens are great. My intention was to write about running, but I haven’t done very much, due to a self-diagnosed IT band injury. But arguably self-diagnosis and doing sod all about it definitely makes me a typical runner, even if I’m not currently doing very much running.
I should probably stay in rival chicken bloggers good books anyway, because I suspect I may be inadvertently developing a chicken fetish. And since writing exclusively about running at Women’s Running magazine for nearly three years, maybe it’s time to spread my wings and write about something a bit more existential. Like birds.
If you don’t have anyone else to chat to, chickens certainly do start to take on a whole new level of importance. Those feathered friends have become my family. I eat most of my meals in their company, I study them obsessively (they’re like mini dinosaurs!) and even meditate amongst the mystic chickens. Okay that’s a lie, I find it impossible to sit still for that long, but their mere presence is quite meditative. If only chickens could run 10K at a comfortable pace, or bitch about boys over a glass of Merlot on Thursday nights.
Anyway before I change the name of this blog to City Chicken in the Sticks, let’s get back to the job in hand. The next obstacle in Rhalou versus country life is only marginally less pathetic than being scared of maverick poultry. This week I have mostly been grappling with the fear of being alone. Not in a spiritual sense (I welcome spiritual enlightenment, hence the bold move to the wilderness) but the fear of actually being alone, all by myself, all night long, in the middle of nowhere, with nobody to hear me scream…
Ultraboy is off to run a race in the highlands this weekend, leaving me home alone with the chickens. Ordinarily I’d relish the opportunity for a bit of Rhalou-time, so I could secretly watch One Born Every Minute, get drunk, eat Rocky Road and paint my toes pirate red at the kitchen table. But that was when I lived in a flat surrounded by six billion people, so I could still hear my neighbours farting through the walls. There’s being alone, and then there’s being alone, in the wilderness, with no car and no sense of direction, and a rusty torture chamber in the cellar. Okay I lied about the torture chamber bit too, Ultraboy gets his kicks from torturing me in a hill running sense, but the rest is all true. I have to spend one night on my own in the house on the hill in the middle of nowhere in Scotland, and I am shitting myself.
I know the crime rate in The Borders is considerably lower than London. Plus after finding a dead body in my back garden in Hackney a couple of years ago and witnessing a shooting in London Fields (both true) I’ve probably used up my horror quota for a lifetime. But combine the house, the hill, the rain, the woman alone and the wilderness, and my weekend definitely possesses all the ingredients for a classic horror film. Except for the gang of horny young teens on spring break required to get picked off one-by-one by the serial killer/monster/tribe of zombies in the lead up to my gory finale, but that’s just a minor plot detail.
I’ve seen The Evil Dead and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre enough times to know slutty redheads rarely make it out of the woods alive. The surviving role is almost always saved for the brunette. And when the aliens do land in the garden, I can’t even run away! My IT band injury is practically begging for an axe-wielding murderer to chase me limping through the undergrowth. I’m just thankful I’m not a blonde; they always get chopped up before the intermission.
Arguably I could just jump on the train to London, or call my Dad who lives 20 miles up the road, or beg Ultraboy to take me to the highlands to share a tent/car/hostel with his sweaty ultra runner mates (sexy). But as shit scared as I am about being on my own in the arse crack of nowhere with nothing but a flock of chickens to protect me from the antichrist, I need to suck it up and be alone at some point, so it might as well be now. If I’m really going to morph into a fully-functioning country girl, I’m going to have to man-up and I’m going to have to do it fast.
If anyone reading this does happen to be a serial killer/monster/tribe of zombies, please don’t come to The Borders and kill me in a complex yet visually exhilarating way this weekend. But do feel free to come and visit! I’d love to have a guest or two for the weekend. We could have a nice cup of tea and talk to the chickens. Chickens are really great.