So – there it lies at the foot of the plum tree – popcorn’s gravestone, carefully strewn with daisies and forget-me-knots and inscribed by Elinor ‘with love’. Popcorn the 30 week cockerel had his neck dislocated on Monday – Jay’s first kill; a peaceful and trusting death, overseen by our friend Tim who had committed  a load of such activities in the past and brought along an array of useful weapons and a traffic cone with which to restrain involuntary movement. Today, the corpse well and truly cold and hard, I plucked away the downy, silky white feathers and exposed his charcoal flesh. Jay deftly removed the gut, and we stewed him, sharing the modest meat ration between Tim’s family and ours. Ah. That’s economy for you.

I have to say, given the job of nurturing, plucking and cooking, I could easily get into this game: growing my own meat birds. Once you’ve reasoned the need for a happy, lively life and a healthy diet in the meat you eat, the only way to go is self-sufficient. Plus, breeding gets the post-baby-bearing hormones going. I fancy a flock of chicks out there on the lawn. And so does Popcorn’s mate, Acorn, whose response to his demise is to go broody on us. I understand.

The past couple of days have been earily silent, as we get used to suburban life without Popcorn’s cries. I miss their zeal – the way he stretched his throat in celebration of light and fertility and fun. So much more satisfying was this pet’s call than the irregular strains of next doors’ yappy dogs, whose racket expressed aggression or distress or downright loneliness. Popcorn’s crow was life itself. But I don’t miss wondering when the hell he was going to stop, at 8  o’clock at night. And I rest easier that I am no longer responsible for intruding on the neighbours’ peace. Except that somehow their strimmers and alarms have suddenly started sounding a load more unpleasant.