A fond farewell to Maurice, the famous French rooster

A fond farewell to Maurice, the famous French rooster

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Maurice, the vocal French rooster who found himself at the center of a court case that captivated the world (at least that part of the world that closely follows poultry litigation), has died.

As reported by various media outlets searching for something, anything, other than grim coronavirus news to highlight, Maurice the rooster rose to a certain amount of fame as a symbol of the conflict that can arise when urban and rural lifestyles clash.

When two worlds collide, chickens can be caught in the middle. I think Calvin Coolidge said that.

According to published reports, a retired couple with a vacation home in the countryside on the island of Oleron in western France didn’t like Maurice’s crowing and took his owners to court in an effort to shut him up.

I’m not familiar with all the details of the story leading up to that landmark case, but I imagine it went something like this. Also, it helps if you read the following exchange in a French accent.

“Bonsoir, farmer. We are a wealthy couple who have purchased the beautiful, rustic home in Oleron beside where you have lived your entire, uneventful life. After many years in the city with the honking of car horns and various other noises that insult our delicate ears, we have sold our multinational perfume corporation and purchased the property beside you.”

“Welcome, Monsieur et Madame, to my humble home! Perhaps you would like some crusty bread? A croissant, eh? I have a pot of French onion soup simmering on the stove and would be delighted if you joined me. I am sure you will be happy here in the peaceful countryside away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Each morning you will rise to the cheerful cock-a-doodle-doo of my rooster, Maurice, known throughout the island of Oleron for his full-throated crowing. It is beloved by all.”

“Eh, no. That is the problem, you see. We prefer cock-a-doodle don’t. The last few mornings have been terrible with the noise from this rooster you call Maurice. We prefer to rise later in the day, count our euros, eat French toast and drink our champagne without the incessant crowing of this Maurice, as you call him.”

“But Monsieur et Madame, you have moved to the countryside and Maurice is part of the countryside along with all the other animals. If you do not like Maurice, you are certainly not going to like my pet skunk, Pepe.”

“Farmer, we shall see you and this Maurice in a court of law. And we shall silence his crowing forever.”

“Sacrebleu! I will do whatever it takes to defend the honor of Maurice the rooster. I shall hire the finest attorney in all of France — Paree Mason.”

While I’m sure little if any of that was an accurate representation of the real situation, Maurice and his owner did go to court. As AFP reported, “the French court threw out the legal complaint and he was allowed to carry on with his morning ritual unimpeded.”

Until now. His real owner, Corinne Fesseau, announced in June that Maurice, 6, had died of coryza, a respiratory infection common among chickens.

“We found him dead at the bottom of the chicken coop, we did everything we could,” she told the news agency, which apparently failed to ask the obvious follow-up question, “And just what steps do you take to revive a fallen rooster?”

Maurice was buried in the garden.

“Maurice was an emblem, a symbol of rural life and a hero,” said Fesseau.

He is survived by a number of offspring and will be greatly missed in the henhouse.

RIP, Maurice. You were a good cock-a-doodle dude.

Scott Hollifield is editor/general manager of The McDowell News in Marion, North Carolina, and a humor columnist. Contact him at rhollifield@mcdowellnews.com.

Scott Hollifield is editor/general manager of The McDowell News in Marion, North Carolina, and a humor columnist. Contact him at rhollifield@mcdowellnews.com.

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