This is a true tale illustrating how sometimes it takes someone suggesting a truly bizarre course of action to bring people together and bond in an unlikely fashion.

Standing with her pink ribbon around her slender ankle was Birthday Girl. She was not yet a year old in spite of the “1” stickers plastered all around the house, front door and garden.

You see, Marigold is a chicken. A town garden chicken, much loved one of three. Yet Marigold stands out – she escapes; the little girl owner, Beth, has taught her to do an assault course and she is a one-off. It is her being different that makes her so endearing.

Beth had decided that it was time for a party and a get-together and with nothing looming for ages it came to her in a moment of sheer brilliance that Marigold was not yet one and should have a party to celebrate that.

This is where adults and children differ – no adult I know would think of that!

Beth however, at just 11 with a shine to light a city which gives away the clues that she had few if any vaccinations, thought this a marvellous idea and set about making invitations and being very careful where they went.

We are family friends and had chicken-sat so of course were top of the list of admirers of the beloved chicken in spite of a traumatic time when they went on holiday and Marigold just stood on the lawn looking depressed, yes, I said depressed, and had no energy, no life and was just plain, well, depressed and I had to sit with her hours doing massage and chatting to her and reassuring her that all was well – I know but I love animals and she looked so sad.

Beth carefully drew, coloured and lovingly sent the invitations. To her friends? No, only one friend was allowed and she helped bake the cakes and make the (egg) sandwiches. The garden was prepared with tables and often-forgotten tea services with teapots and cups where normally mugs would adorn the wooden table. It was a pretty sight and the girls had done a marvellous job of creating the right atmosphere.

Present were her family, my son (mostly upstairs with her brother doing music things), their immediate neighbours who had just had their beautiful twenty year old daughter pass on, very elderly neighbour who rarely leaves the house, couple from across the road who always shout at passing children for just being there and most are plain scared of them, us as sitters and old friends and that was about it.

Now, this is where it is interesting. The invitations were not for cool, funky, hip young things that she could impress. She was photographed with the chicken and loved watching people laughing and sharing stories and actually getting into the whole thing and not one person said “this is the weirdest party I have ever been to” even when the chicken was given treats and presents.

We took a card lamely mentioning a chick flick for a joke and a bulb of organic garlic (they like it in their water), another took worms from the garden, another downloaded a picture of Rocky from Chicken Run for her hut, another gave raisons and so on.

Everyone took a present to a chicken’s birthday party. Everyone entered into the spirit of it and that is my point. Beth gave us all a superbly fantastic day which went on into the evening and laughter by candlelight and the clinking of glasses and she was happy.

It had been her intention to make everyone smile and she achieved it and did her own thing happily watching from a distance.

So you see, the next time someone suggests something which is truly a little weird, just say “yes” and watch it unfold. It might just be one of those “out of the box” moments which someone else can see you need and you do not as yet! Trust!

Thank you Beth and Marigold – I shall smile for ever about that day and my first ever proper Hen Party!

Penny Dee