The Cottage Smallholder

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Friday the 13th

photo: Mrs Boss on the nest again

photo: Mrs Boss on the nest again

My stepfather had an uncle who always stayed in bed on Friday the 13th .
“The whole day?” Aged nine, I was amazed.
“Yes, all day. He also used evaporated milk in his tea. To avoid too many trips to the shops, I expect.”

My stepfather never revealed the name of this uncle but I had a clear picture of him. Firstly the bed. An single iron bedstead with stretchy mattress (no wife would put up with the evaporated milk). The carpet slippers nestling on the lino under the bed ready for shuffling trips to the kitchen. The chipped teapot, its belly scorched with the patina of years of tea making (leaves not bags). Endless bachelor suppers of Fray Bentos tinned pies and cans of mushy peas.

Each Friday the 13th I think about this nameless eccentric uncle. As the years roll by I become more and more intrigued by this character. Did he ring in sick every Friday the 13th when he was working? Or did he take it as annual leave. Studying the calendar and marking these days off with big round rings. And how did he pass his day? Somehow I sense an old radio beside the bed and him dressed in pyjamas (the ones with the cotton trouser ties) leafing through a pile of copies of the local free newspaper that he had carefully put in a convenient pile beside the front door over the preceding weeks.

I’m always a bit apprehensive about Friday the 13th.  Although I have survived them for over fifty years.

This morning I went down to the chicken run and I opened the door.  As always, I counted the flock as they erupted into the run. One was missing.

I opened the roof of the nesting box and discovered Mrs Boss had died in the night. One wing was stretched out over the nest of eggs.

She was a great favourite of ours and mother to broods of guinea fowl, runner ducks and chickens.

Like my stepfather’s uncle she stayed in bed on Friday the 13th but just didn’t wake up.

  Leave a reply


  1. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Pat

    I still miss Mrs Boss. The flock sems very flat without her. Danny buried her and we are going to buy a stone chicken to set on her grave.

    We really miss her.

    Hello Amzichick100

    Yes Mrs Boss died beside a clutch of eggs. It was very sad. But at least she died in her sleep and didn’t suffer for months. The wing over the nest was touching though. I do miss her as she was a real charater and a loving mum.

  2. amzichick100

    Really sorry to hear about mrs boss, i loved reading all about her! im sure she died in her favourite place with a clutch of eggs. R.I.P

  3. Ohhhhhh Fiona, I am so very sorry hun!! I loved Mrs. Boss too. Oh my heart is aching now for you and your loss. She was a good little soul.

  4. Fiona Nevile

    Hello Mandi

    Oh no, how awful for you. Just three years old too. It must have been an awful shock. RIP Tigz.

    My cats died 18 years ago and I still miss them.

    Hi Liz

    I used to have a toy making workshop in Ely many moon ago and often ate a snacky lunch at The Old Fire Engine. Always liked the gallery – generally interesting stuff.

    Thanks so much for dropping by. I must check out Peacock’s Tea Room. The riverside development hadn’t happened when I worked in Ely.

    Dear Pamela

    I adore lemon meringue pie too!

  5. Thanks for the tip off Liz. Unfortunately it’s a bit of a long way from Carlisle … My local tea shop (less than 2 minutes walk from my house) does the most fantastic home made lemon meringue pie – another of my faves – and if you drop in for elevenses it is still warm. I only do raspberry pavlova once a year for my birthday as I have lactose intolerance so the cream is a problem. My mum makes my birthday pavlova and it is worth the after effects.

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