As the Olympeck torch passed through the Hen Garden on the eve of the Opening Ceremony, there was a moment of beak-dropping horror as torch bearer, Florence, lost her footing on the ladder and inadvertently set light to the henhouse, which regrettably burnt to the ground. However the days’ eggs – now smoked-and-hard-boiled – were quickly removed for later use in shooting practice, and in the spirit of the day, the homeless occupants were offered emergency accommodation in the Olympeck village.
Sadly Sumo – top chicken and three times Olympeck Champion – was suffering from smoke inhalation and wing burns, and could no longer compete. “It’s been an explosive day,” she said from her hospital roost, “I knew that clot Florence was going to mess up, she can’t even go up and down the ladder WITHOUT a torch, let alone with that encumbrance to unbalance her, given how fat and wobbly – I mean, fast and agile – she is. In a word, I’m barbecued.”
Thus on the night of the Opening Ceremony, Team BritHen – minus Sumo – took their places for the spectacle, a celebration of the best their proud land has to offer. The evening ended with each and every British hen feeling very proud and just a little smug, and welcoming their global rivals with open wings.
This spirit of inclusivity did not last long, however, as no sooner was the last firework extinguished, than the Games began and it was every hen for herself. In Team BritHen, things started well in the Tug-O-Worm, with our girls taking the silver, losing out only to hens from the USA who managed not only to tug the worm (regrettably in half) but also to eat it.
Meanwhile, the GB cockerels had a floppy start in the Wattle Wobbling, failing to be placed, with the Gold medal going to Italy. “Of course we ‘ave de vobbliest wabbles, is obvious,” said team captain, Silvio, “That’s a why all the ladies larve us so much!”
Onto reCycling, and it was neck and neck – or should I say vent to vent – as BritHen’s Matilda (Goldline Hybrid) went up against Eastern Europeans Pavlova and Svetlana (Polish Frizzles) to see who could turn pellets to poo in the quickest time. Just as the home crowd was waiting to see Matilda produce brown gold, she was pooped at the post as Pavlova delivered not just the quickest poo of the Games but also the most substantial – weighing in at a record-breaking 100g and in under 2 hours. Matilda finished in third place taking Bronze, where unfortunately her late offering on the podium – at 103g – was disqualified. “When you’ve got to go you’ve got to go,” she said stoically. My timing let me down. I’m gutted. I’ve been turning out times of 118 minutes and weights of 105g in training, so this is a big let down. I’ve given my all. Literally.”
After this disappointment for Team BritHen, things lightened up with the much anticipated Peach Volleyball event, in which the Swedish hens, having just moulted most of their feathers, were clad in practically nothing at all, much to the delight of the many sporty cockerels who had rushed to buy tickets. In the end, several peaches were successfully caught and eaten by the Spanish team, who had the advantage of climate and cheap fruit to practise with.
Continuing with an edible element, there was controversy in the Five-a-Day-Football event when the USA insisted that Donuts constituted a fruit or vegetable. After officials halted the game to consult the rule book, it was decided that Donuts are an acceptable vegetable, given the nut element. (Or maybe a fruit). Unsurprisingly the Americans took Gold in this event, as the inclusion of legitimate Donuts sliced seconds off their swallowing time, rendering hens trying to compete eating comestibles such as carrots or pakchoi at an obvious disadvantage. “We have supersized crops, ” said US team leader Chucky Chook (Rhode Island Red), “High five-a-day, brothers!”.
But all was not lost, for GB had national hopes pinned on a certain hen, Dahlia, for the Mud Diving event. Dahlia had been in training since she was practically a chick and now the weight of her country’s anticipation was on her wingtips. But Dahlia faced a threat from Chinese divers, and in a bid to seal victory, she tackled the iconic Front Four and a Half. This involves somersaulting over four hens and a pullet, hopefully to land magnificently beak-first in the mud. The icing on the cake is also to snaffle a worm on the way back up. With an impeckable dive flight, four lightning-quick somersaults plus a half for good measure – all topped off with a seamless entry – Dahlia seized gold from the waiting wings of the Chinese chickens, to the joyful clucking of the whole of Britain. As she emerged from the mud pool, not only was she bathed in the golden light of victory, she was also nibbling on a worm. Textbook stuff. Watch and yearn, rest of the world.
Still in the pool, it was time for the more leisurely event of Synchronised Dust-Bathing. Much of the impact here is in the swimming costumes and Team BritHen did not disappoint, with our six hens sporting the latest in Stella McCartney couture. But whilst the BritHens certainly looked ice cool in spandex, could they hold their own in the dust bath? We need not have worried – after some elegant deck work, the team descended gracefully into the bath to show off their moves – a ballet leg double and a continuous spin clinching it for the team, who took the Gold (although the latter move caused two team members to lay an egg somewhat unexpectedly). Team leader, Chardonnay, from Essex, said of the result, “We’re in it to win it, innit?”. Which roughly translates as, “We’re thrilled all our hard work and endeavour has yielded results”.
Other events continued well with the WomHens’ Butterfly Stroke seeing our girls take the silver, with 16 butterflies “stroked”, * all native species. Gold went to Peru, with 37 “stroked”. (*euphemism for eaten).
In the womens Hennastics, Team BritHen got off to a good start when Doris scored 15.716 points on the Floor, however a double fault on the uneven perch saw her miss out on a podium place, and Team BritHen left the event without a medal- though a few older competitors left with prolapses.
It was a tight contest in the Ladies’ NestBoxing, with two teams managing 6 eggs within three minutes of each team entering the nestboxing ring. But in the end the Gold medal went to Japan after team member Sushi managed to lay a record-breaking three eggs, sealing victory. “I knew being egg bound would come in useful one day,” said Sushi. “I’ve been bunged up for days now, but as soon as I got in the nestboxing ring, I felt everything would just fall into place. And they did.”
Onto Fencing, and Australia won Gold, with Roo the Rooster managing to perch on a 9’6′ fence, whilst Team BritHen’s cockerel, Hugh, finished in fifth place, with a disappointing fence height of only 7’2”. “Um, gosh, sorry chaps,” Hugh said of his defeat, “I’ve been battling with a scaly leg and I just couldn’t get enough spring, what with all the Vaseline.”
Next the Women’s Heptahlon saw World Champion BritHen, Jessica Hennis, sweep to victory in the seven events – 1) log hurdles, 2) high roost, 3) egg put, 4) fox sprint, 5) pond jump, 6) mealworm chuck and 7) round-the-garden. She also added an 8th, the Mash Dash, for bonus points.
Finally in the WomHens’ 4 X 100 metres Relay, Team BritHen stormed to victory as the girls raced unstoppably, each passing the baton (worm with rigor mortis) faultlessly. Here it was a case of mind over fatter since all the other teams failed to complete the course after frenziedly eating their batons. With no competitors left, Team BritHen took Gold, Silver and Bronze in a triumph of speed and self control.
However the use of banned substances cast a shadow too, such as when GB’s Cream Legbar Lily tested positive for Poultry Spice, which resulted in her being stripped of her Silver medal for long jump. “I’m devastated” she said, “I just had a little sprinkle on my breakfast mash as I was going down with a cold, and this happens. I had no idea it contained anything other than turmeric. I’m sure Pseudo Ephedrine wasn’t in the ingredients list last time I ordered from Omlet…”
So there it was, the HenGarden HentyTwelve Olympics. The culmination of seven years of planning, training and preparation. Seven years of clearance, construction and contingency. There were heroes, there was heartbreak, but most of all there was hope. Oh, and quite a lot of hens. Celebrity David BeckHen said, “It’s been a truly spectacular Games, and I am very proud to have been an ambassador for Team BritHen. It just goes to show what can be achieved if everyones works together. We British Hens know how to put on a spectacle, come rain or shine, security fears or strike action, we know what a good mash is… I mean bash. It’s been a Games of Hendeavour, a Games of Hen Clever, but a Games of Men? Never!