Humans have used animals as oracles since time immemorial. Ancient soothsayers saw the shape of things to come in the entrails of birds, or in the pattern of their flight. Old as it is, the tradition lives on. As recently as 2010, Paul the Octopus picked winner after winner in the soccer World Cup. Now, could a piece of fried chicken predict the outcome of Scotland's referendum on independence?

Today is the most important date in the Scottish calendar since 1707, when the Acts of Union subsumed both Scotland and England in the Kingdom of Great Britain. For today, Scottish voters might well decide to cast off the British yoke, and after an interruption of 300 or 400 years (depending on your definition of 'independence') go it alone again.

Throughout most of the campaign, the No camp retained a clear lead over the Yessers. But in the weeks leading up to the referendum, the race has tightened, and the momentousness of the event has finally hit home - especially after a few polls have put the Yes camp ahead, if only by the narrowest of margins.

The race is now too close to call. So this will not only be the most important, but also the most exciting Scottish election in ages.Unless, of course, you believe in animal oracles. In that case, it's all over for the Union. For what did Terry O'Neill find at the bottom of his KFC bucket? A piece of fried chicken in the shape of the UK... without Scotland.

No Scottish Wing on this Chicken. (Image: Terry O'Neill)

Mr. O'Neill, an Englishman who lives on the Isle of Wight but was holidaying with his family in Eastbourne at the time of his auspicious discovery, is quoted on the Scotland Now website: "I picked this one piece out and I thought it looked like the map of Britain, but then I realised Scotland was missing."

The KFC delicacy does show more than a passing resemblance with rUK - the abbreviation for the 'rest of the UK' we may have to get used to after Thursday. Peninsular Cornwall is very recognisable (as it often is- see also #671). You do need to squint a bit to see Wales just above. But the shape of the southern and eastern coastlines is eerily precise... as is the northern border of England, with Scotland the obvious absentee, a phantom limb of this Kentucky Fried Britain.

"I don't know whether it's an omen for the outcome of the Scottish referendum, but I wouldn't be surprised if Scotland vote Yes", said Mr.O'Neill. "I'll be very sad if they do because it will mean we will probably never have another Labour government again". Not to mention the fact that his fried chicken pieces may be a lot smaller than before.

Many thanks to @fvlgen for notifying me of this story.


Strange Maps #680