The news on the radio this morning about the execution by firing-squad of convicted murder Ronnie Lee Gardner in Utah, USA, somehow put me in mind of little Chico (above) - so you can tell from the outset that this is not going to be a heartwarming story, though it starts off warmly enough.
Ronnie Lee Gardner had - we have just found out, now that they have pulled the triggers - an appalling childhood which involved abandonment from the age of 2, sexual abuse thereafter and an early introduction to the horrors of solvent abuse aged around 9, to which he became addicted. In short, he had just the type of 'upbringing' that produces the sort of person who will never fit into 'society' without care and repair from a system which is embedded in the heart of the rotten society it is trying to cure. Kill or cure.
Little Chico was found on the roadside in the mountains near Malaga, Spain, by the sister of a friend of mine, having been dumped there by his original owner and left to fend for himself. The reason why he was abandoned is because he had an uncontrollable lust for attacking chickens, and this is how he got his name.
My friend's sister - after a period of looking after Chico - decided that she could no longer tolerate him, because he kept attacking her chickens. So she gave Chico to her sister - my friend - who lives in the glorious region shown in the top photo. What you can see is Chico's back yard - what a backyard. My friend keeps chickens.
When we stayed with her last year, I spent much of the time sitting in that yard, with Chico sitting on me, making contented grunting and purring noises as I drank wine and smoked cigarettes. There are also two other large dogs at this house, and Chico would often sit on top of one of them, making the same noises. A very funny sight.
After collecting eggs one day (I have never eaten so many eggs in one week as then) someone left the coupe gate half open and a chicken got out, wandering into the jaws of Chico, who badly mauled it. This was not an unusual event. Sometimes a chicken would flap over the fence and receive the same treatment. The cockerel they have is THE biggest I have ever seen, and more than a match for Chico. This cock has been known to see off wild boar.
I heard from my friend's mother (who lives in Bath) a couple of months ago, that Chico had killed one chicken too many, and rather than strengthen the defences around the chicken coupe, they just killed Chico instead.
I have been so depressed and angry about this, that I have tried not to think about it until now, but the Utah story has brought it back to me.
It is a sort of paradise up there in the mountains, but an extremely hostile paradise if you don't fit in.