Anyone that knows me might be surprised to learn that I’m somewhat of a sceptic when it comes to alternative medical therapies. Like a French politician extorting the value of selflessness and the importance of embracing non-gallic behaviour, something just doesn’t add up in my logical brain and I’m left with an unpleasant feeling of indigestion. In fairness, as Emma discovers more about vaccinations, I’m also becoming a huge disbeliever of mainstream medicines as well which will leave me in an awkward position if I ever fall ill.
As the missus discovered to her astonishment and soggy misfortune many years ago, I’m unable to drink potions, tinctures, solutions or otherwise steeped infusions of herbs without gagging, then dramatically and violently ejecting said fluids faster than an Australian draining a free bar. She loves making them. Like some country-wise disciple of Potions Master Alan Rickman, she delights in brewing evil in a bottle. There is one particularly nasty butter-based mixture that personally I wouldn’t feed to a Belgian. She swears it’s medicinal but even GlaxoWellcome might have an ethical concerns about marketing it. Dave The Man had the misfortune to come over for a build budget meeting with a sniffle and, despite my surreptitious warning signals, he accepted a cup of it. Poor fool obviously needed to learn the hard way.
So, I’m not a big believer in alternative therapies and medicines. Obviously massages are an exception and in my curious mind don’t fall under the “alternative” umbrella. I’ve had them given by a mad Canadian in a health retreat (for the record, ouch), svelte Geordie RMTs in Newcastle (nice), through to wizened old grannies in India who literally walked up and down on my back.
In my experience, the best ones don’t tend to happen surrounded by lush, verdant forestry, the delicate sound of a stream and chimes. Like many good things, a decent massage will involve equal parts grunting, farting, awkward positions and a vague confusion why you should be paying for the abuse.
Building on that kernel, I’m learning to appreciate the surprising efficacy of chiropractic treatments. Slowly, I’m preparing to extend the Circle of Acceptance (currently solely occupied by hardcore massage) to include it too. In the past I’ve been known to call them quacks, charlatans, jokers, numpties (one of the great Scottish contributions to the English language) and useless time-wasters. Yet, having put my back out a couple of times from utterly random things like getting out of bed while being used as a grumpy trampoline complete with sound effects by a two-year old, or seeing my little baby niece taking her first overdue foot steps after visiting one, I’m inclined to concede that they might be genuine. Running the farm, I also suspect that I will be seeking their services out on a reasonably regular basis next year.
That doesn’t mean I’m about to go all hippy and wear tie-dyed Hug A Chiropractor T-shirts while reeking of patchouli oil. I’m unlikely to want to sit cross-legged in a circle of love with desperate middle-aged, middle-class plonkers while they sing earnestly about the Earth Mother and redemption. Seriously people, and you know who you are, just stop.
Apologies, I’m digressing. The reason for this recent opening of my mind is, of course, chickens.
Last summer we purchased a small starter flock of 4 ready-to-lay birds to augment our three surviving chicks. Within weeks one of them fell ill and died of what we suspected was coccidiosis. Another, later named Drippy Bum, seemed to succumb but Emma The Chicken Healer rallied and nursed it back to health. As a side effect of the illness, it stopped laying and has been a target for my macabre intention to Kill A Chicken ever since. Like an overly protective mother, Emma has forbidden me the coup-de-grace (sorry for the pun) and thwarted my plans. But now, with the winter fully upon us, Drippy Bum fell ill again. We decided to isolate her to save the rest of the flock from catching the parasite and give her a last night of relative comfort inside.
Meanwhile, I read the classic Seymour text on how to wring a chicken’s neck and practiced the appropriate hand moves several times just to be sure I had them correct. Then, when the kids had gone to bed, the time had finally arrived. Dressed in suitable black Ninja Pants and T-Shirt, I decided to do the deed while Emma was researching on the computer upstairs.
Like an avian assassin, I entered the holding area and observed my prey. She looked hunched and ill. Resolute that I was doing the best thing possible for her, I grabbed her legs in one hand, her head in the other and stretched her out. She looked at me with a wide, feathery eye and I could almost picture a tear of gratitude. It was an emotional moment. Then, drawing a breath to steel myself, I positioned my thumb and twisted her head back.
I heard the click and pop as clear as if it was Dave The Man gagging on a mouthful of buttery cough potion. Her body felt limp in my hands and so I put her down…where she proceeded to stand up and look at me in an even more confused state of mind. I’d failed!
Now, not one to take failure lightly, I tried again. This time, bending her neck further until the crack was like the opening of Mordor’s Pit Of Doom. She flapped once and then lay limp again. It was done.
Like a slinky, I laid her body down at the same time thinking of what to tell Emma. Unfortunately, my thoughts were broken by the astonishing sight of Drippy Bum gathering her legs under her, doing a little hop, chirp and finally looking at me in a defiant way that clearly conveyed “try it again fuckwit and I’ll have your sodding eyes out”.
Now, I’m not a heartless or stupid man and was prepared to accept that a third twist of her neck was probably a smidge unfair. Instead, I stood and watched her hop about a bit and then it dawned on me what I was. Not a failure, but The World’s First And Only Chicken Chiropractor. Time will tell if my treatment helps her, but Emma got to complete her research and discovered that the chicken has worms which can actually be treated. So, on reflection it was a good thing that my Ninja Assassin Moves need some improvement.
I haven’t given up my dastardly plans to Kill A Chicken, but for now, the miraculous Drippy Bum is safe from further “chiropractic” treatments.