Episode 44: Chickens

Tuesday, July 25th, 2017

The chicken did not cross the road. The road passed beneath the chicken’  (Albert Einstein).

For this episode let us join the astronaut of earth’s history, Professor James Daybell, and the archbishop of the archives, Dr. Sam Willis as they hatch an idea or two to bring us the unexpected history of chickens. Our two strutting roosters ruffle feathers as they take us on a journey from medieval English venery terms to the American post Second World War ‘Chicken of Tomorrow’ contest, from the Viking settlements of York to the Natural History Museum in London and a case of Victorian egg fraud involving Lawrence of Arabia, the explorer and writer Charles Montagu Doughty and egg collector Richard Meinertzhagen, and from Freud’s ideas about maternal omniscience to a rather modern letter from a mother, Lady Gower, to her son, Thomas a student at Oxford, written in 1618.

Treading carefully upon eggshells, James and Sam discover that this ‘eggcellent’ unexpected history is actually all about; rituals and cultures, technology and development, class distinctions and land ownership, female empowerment and agency, misunderstandings and necessity, motherhood and maternal relationships, and metaphorical symbolism.

Discover Sam’s jungle skills and listen out as James comes up with collective nouns for chickens and why you shouldn’t white wash cob buildings. Want to know just how many chickens there are in the world today? About 3.69 chickens per person – that’s a lot of nuggets!

‘I want to live in a world where a chicken can cross the road and not have its motives questioned’   (Anon)

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