February 20, 2006

Don't Panic...Mr Honky Tonk's here

Bird Flu's on the march. So far the global pandemic has wiped out three ducks and a sparrow and shows no sign of letting up. The measured response of many national governments has been to slaughter tens of millions of chickens.
The Communists burn 'em alive and the Muslims gas 'em. I've never had much time for poultry but I wouldn't let those fanatics loose on my worst enemy.
This whole thing is getting crazy. With or without Avian Flu, chickens are filthy creatures - one rung under rats. It's always been that way and it's always been smart to avoid 'em* (don't believe me? Read the footnote - I dare you).
What's more ridiculous? The fact that we've only just started worrying about the health of our poultry stock or the fact that we think the problem comes from wild ducks. In any case, we're better off without them. Who cares if our stinking chickens chalk up one more disease?
Mr Honky Tonk cares, that's who. He doesn't see it my way. In fact, he doesn't see anything my way.
As Avian Flu edges closer and closer to our soggy little island, the Honkster gets twitchier by the minute. A Swan here, a Lesser Spotted Tit there. There's no telling where it'll stop. Even though it's February and half the country has got flu anyway, the old crank is ready to fight - like he did in the Blackwatch.
"Put on your dressing gown and lose the cathater Mr Honky Tonk, we can't show any signs of weakness. You batten down the hatches old boy; I'll load the pitchforks on to the Range Rover.
"Fear not, the menfolk of Old Knebworth are bound to be on our side too. Those heroes know a rampaging European maurauder when they see one. By jove, you should've seen 'em when the Buncefield oil depot blew up.
"COME ON BOYS, Lets get to the coast. We fought off the Hun - we can sure as hell fight off a bunch of lame Turkish chickens. One thing's for sure though, we can't trust a Labour government to do it for us. That swine Blair's sure to look out for himself. Don't worry though, those dirty little bastards won't make it this far. They don't stand a chance. It's gonna rain blood and feathers over the channel tonight. Bird Flu? HAHA! More like Fish Flu.
"Not you though, Honky Tonk. You're not coming."
"No. You need to stay here, man the Bren gun and scream bloody murder at the invading red menace. Remember, now's no time for surrender or weakness - it's us or the birds."
"NO SURRENDER bloop bloop! Sacre Bleu! The French can 'ave 'em."
"Exactly. GOOD GOD MAN! Do up your dressing gown...that's better. Now don't let the side down."
Alternatively, and more likely, he could phone me at work.

ME: "Good evening, how can I help?"
MR HONKY TONK: "How can you help? Who the hell can help? What gall Downing Street has to say 'don't panic', they're idiots. Of course we're going to panic. What do they know down there in Blairland. Blair is nothing - he's just a punk, a hobgoblin. On behalf of the the Chelsea Branch of the Conservative Party I want to say: 'Pink Punk Poof!'. PANIC"
"Pink, punk poof?"
"Yes. Pink punk poof. That's what we say to Tony McWaffle because we're a party of teasers and we'll tease them down to their little red knees. We'll toss bad eggs and rotten tomatoes at them and spoil their suits. BLOOP BLOOP! We want McWaffle out of the house and back up to Sedgefield tonight and that's an order. We'll wipe the smile off his face, you'll see. You tell it to the regions. Honk Honk!"
Line goes dead.
* For further information on just how filthy poultry already is, visit http://www.advocatesforanimals.org.uk/resources/farmed/broilers.html, where you will find the following passages:
"Broiler sheds are never cleaned out during the lifetime of one 'crop' of birds so the litter becomes impregnated with the birds' droppings and urine. This combined with inadequate ventilation, water spillage from drinkers, diarrhoea etc can create filthy litter. Forcing the birds to live in these conditions means they can develop painful hock burns, breast blisters and ulcerated feet. High ammonia levels can also cause blindness. Keeping broilers in such poor conditions not only inflicts suffering on the birds but also poses serious threats to human health."
"An investigation by the Food Standards Agency found that more than half of the chickens on sale in the High Street were contaminated with campylobacter (Daily Mail, 20/11/02). Sources are believed to be the hot and crowded conditions on factory farms, imported chicken meat and the poor hygiene in slaughterhouses which the Consumers' Association has attacked as "appalling". In 2000, a recorded 17,000 people were admitted to hospital with the bug - 86 people died of the illness."

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