Let's do this as a quiz. Everyone loves a quiz, because the pleasure is to be found, not in knowing stuff, but in being seen to know stuff, in being rewarded with marks.
Thus quizzes abound in pubs and clubs and will continue to do so, world without end (though that last phrase is coming under a bit of pressure at the moment, what with the plague, the climate and Trump. They ought to write a book of such revelations.).
But on with the quiz. Question 1 - are you ready, are you twitching and keen? - what is the most common bird on Earth? Take your time now, think around the subject. Of all the big and little birdies on all the big and little continents, which is the most abundant?
Time's up. The answer's not the sparrow or the starling or the city pigeon. It's the domestic fowl, the common chook, by far. Why? Because we like to eat it. And there's a thought for this Anthropocene age.
If we were partial to penguins there would be billions of them. Or bellbirds. Or thrushes. As it happens I've eaten thrushes, in Spain 40 years ago, and I can report that it takes several thrushes to make a dish and that dish is mainly bones.
And the etiquette is to eat the bones, because to pick the meat from them you'd need tweezers, so a thrush dinner is a crunch fest. But a chook dinner is not. A chook dinner is a meaty thing, because the chook has proved to be the most efficient and least expensive way of turning vegetable matter into flesh, thus gratifying both our utter parsimony and our inner carnivore.
Which brings us to question 2. Ready now? Question 2. What's the best way to prepare a chook for cooking?
The answer is - drumroll - spatchcock it.
To spatchcock is to hack down the length of the bird's spine with a pair of serious scissors. Then flip it over and flatten it with the heel of your hand on the sternum. Break the sternum. When the bird looks crucified, and somehow vaguely human, it's ready.
Lay it in the roasting pan with love. The bird was raised to be eaten so we should make the best of it, and spatchcocking does just that. I regret every bird I didn't spatchcock.
(Question 3 looms. How are you doing so far? Are you two for two? If so, pat your own head with loving condescension and feel the warmth of your own approval.)
Question 3. Before committing your spatchcocked chook to a hot oven, with what should you smear its flesh? (One mark for each ingredient.)
The answer is: chopped garlic, natch, chopped rosemary, chopped lemon peel, melted butter, salt, pepper, and some more melted butter for the joy that's in it.
Question 4: With what three other things should you smear the bird? (Again, one mark each). The three things are: love, liberality and your hands (though that, for most of us, is four things.) Rub the smearing in, poke it under the skin. Get it in there, get it in. Chook flesh is bland, because it grows so fast and cheaply. This is to unbland it.
Question 5 - How long should you roast it?
The answer is at least 30 minutes longer than you think. They say a chook's done when the juices run clear. They lie. It is half done. Roast on, roast on. Baste it often and well with the butter and rosemary and garlic. Roast it till the skin is golden-crisp and beyond the power of man to resist.
You will know that the bird is done, that it is ready for consumption, that it is at the apex of edibility, when you try to lift it from the pan and it threatens to fall apart at the joints, its connections having melted, it having ceased to be bird and become, by the magic of your cookery, a flesh confection, a meltingness.
Question 6 - then what?
Answer: gravy. Tip the golden fluids from the baking tray. Add flour, stock, heat. Reduce to the texture of wallpaper paste. Deck a plate with chook flesh. Add far too many roast potatoes, the recipe for which will have to await another day, and drench the lot in gravy. From there you'll need no leading.
Question 7. What's the point?
The point is pleasure.