Highly jinxed after she bought a cockerel at a ‘Brocante’

Here in France it is a national hobby from spring to summer to go to a brocante – a flea market. In my region of Nord-Pas de Calais there are more than 3,000 brocantes each year ranging from tiny rural village affairs to the massive Braderie de Lille with 10,000 stalls.

Going to a French flea market is a great way to get a feel for the nature of a place, a chance for a cultural dip into real life France, to meet the locals and get out and about. You might find an antique or a bargain. Or you might, like me, find a chicken to take home.

At the village of Contes, 30 or so stalls lined the road; a lot of tat was on offer. At the last stall, however was a cage with a very colourful cockerel and a sign that read ‘Cockerel Nagasaki €5.00’.

The Other Half screeched to a halt.

“No way,” I said “We’ve already got too many birds. I don’t want any more”

“Nagasaki though… and just five Euros,” wheedled the Other Half; he does love a bargain.

The lady behind the stall became very animated: “He is a lovely little fellow, friendly but a bit nervous; take him,” she urged.

So we handed over our five Euros and the woman procured a carry box. As she bent to pick the bird up I heard her husband say “be careful, this bird is bad”. The woman grabbed him robustly and thrust him squawking, screaming, pecking, flapping and head-butting into the box. She and her husband held the lid down while they wrapped it tight with yards of sticky tape.

As we walked down the road, past the tat stalls to our car, the box was lurching with the bird’s antics. People stared in silence but I felt sure they were on the verge of breaking into a round of applause.

“Do you get the feeling that everyone here is watching the gullible English pair who have just relieved them of the most vicious, troublesome cockerel that ever lived?” I asked the Other Half.

Ten minutes later at home, we put him in a small pen on his own with food and water. His gorgeous feathers were puffed up making him look enormous – except he wasn’t. He was actually quite small and, within seconds, hopped though a hole in the fence and into the farmer’s fields at the bottom of the garden.

The Other Half leaped over the fence in hot pursuit of his bargain bird. Unusually there were no cows grazing, however they had left plenty of reminders which the Other Half trod in as he ran around clutching a butterfly net trying to catch the nimble Nagasaki.

An hour later he returned, the battle won, the cockerel held tight. We now know he is a Japanese breed cross but we named him Kendo Nagasaki after the famous British wrestler of the 60s and 70s in honour of the fight he put up, though he is now tame and very friendly!

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