BBC Radio 4, 27 December 2013
For many years I used to travel
up and down to central London on the same train, witnessing the same passengers protecting themselves against the responsibility
of making conversation by reading newspapers. These days newspapers have been replaced by smartphones and tablets, but the
instinct not to speak remains the same - even if people have encountered one another on a daily basis for many years, they
stubbornly refuse to exchange anything but the most basic pleasantries.
The Seventh Pullet offers a slightly different variation on a similar situation.
John Blenkinthrope often feels slightly left out, as he can find nothing of interest to discuss on the daily commute.
The only way he can alleviate this problem is to start inventing tall stories, one of which involves a fox and the seven pullets
in his back garden. To his surprise the story takes off; it is not only popular among his fellow-commuters, but gets
picked up by the local media. For a time Blenkinthrope becomes something of a celebrity - that is, until his interlocutors
start not to believe in what he says. From then on, the story becomes a rehearsal of the famous fable of the boy who
cried wolf; even if Blenkinthrope's stories are true, nobody listens to him.
Read by Richard Greenwood, "The Seventh Pullet"
is a gently humorous tale that mocks people's capacity to embroider tales of their own lives so as to achieve popularity.
The producer was Allegra McIlroy.