It's been a tough few weeks. I'll get straight to the point and tell you why. Brace yourself. I'm being menaced by a duck. Yes...a DUCK!
It all began on the 23/03/01. I was out driving on my own in the countryside (My ramblings curtailed by the Foot and Mouth crisis, I'm forced to take out the old banger to view some verdant pastures). Ruminating on the problems facing British agriculture, my lack of a permanent lady companion, and Ken's recent attempt to swindle his insurance company, my attention was not on the road. Suddenly, there was a bump, a thud, a gurgle, my car rose slightly in the air, then settled. I had hit something.
A male mallard (Anas Platyrhyncchos) lay a quarter squashed on the tarmac. Nearby, it's presumed mate waddled and quacked in shock at the sudden demise of its partner. I took stock of the situation and what I had just done. The duck was dead. These things happen on our busy roads. I was very, very sorry but here also was an opportunity. The many self-help books I read are always going on about seizing the moment. I realised that I could have the duck for dinner that night. Ainsley Harriot, Delia Smith etc are the people I've been watching on television, and thanks to them, I've become a little bit more adventurous in the kitchen. No longer for me the batchelor fare of boiled potatoes on toast. I scooped up the dead bird with a shovel, and placed it in a carrier bag. All the while, its bereaved partner kept up its barrage of quacks in protest at my actions. Pecks were aimed at my shins at such a speed that its little head became a blur. As I climbed into the car, the bird suddenly ceased its remonstrations. There was an eerie silence as my eye met its eye. A chill wind blew around the car, and for a moment I saw, within the darkness of that black beady orb, primordial Nature stirring in all its malevolence. "Don't worry," I said. (Keeping my manner bright and breezy to counteract peculiar sense of foreboding) "You'll find another mate!" Little did I know, that the Mallard species is in decline in Britain - mates were thin on the ground, or in her case, flat on the ground. Off I drove, showing a callous indifference to the fowl's sudden loss. For this, I was about to be paid.
Driving back through sunlit country lanes, I casually glanced into my rear view mirror and saw...the duck, staring back at me. The shock made me swerve the car. It was flying at car height, about one foot from the rear window. I speeded up. So did the bird. I took sharp corners. So did the bird. It remained close above my car-boot. Each time it caught up with me, its beak tapped against the back glass, signalling its hell-bent intention to follow. I marvelled at the ducks tenacity and indefatigability, as mocked by its quacks, I made desperate attempts to evade its presence. At one point, I wound down my window and shouted my insistence that it desist in its pursuit; but to no avail. Only when I got onto the motorway and hit top speed, did I shake the pernicious fowl. I scanned the skies all the way home.
The demised mallard was cooked that evening, following one of Gary Rhodes recipes (his tips on plucking are very confusing). I didn't enjoy the meal. There was this after taste of guilt. With my digestion, now dubbing impaired, it lay heavy on my stomach and also on my conscience. Having taken too much red wine, I retired to bed; burdened by low spirits.
At about 3.45am, I awoke to the sound of flutterings and scufflings outside my window. A sinister silhouette quivered behind the street-lit curtain. With a growing sense of dread, I arose to investigate. I peeped through the floral material and there peeping back at my eye, was the eye of the duck of my nightmare. It had found me. On seeing me, it began pecking the glass with a ferociousness seen only in seagull colonies. Panicking, I open the window to push the bird off the ledge. It spent the rest of the night quacking at me from the darkness of the garden. How had it found me? What did it want? All my life, I had marvelled at the way-finding skills of birds. Now this ability had led to me interfacing with psychotic poultry in the dead of night. At daybreak, it was back on the ledge, (see photos) trumpeting its venomous presence and marching up and down like a sentry. So began a series of unsettling avian-inspired incidents that have undermined my confidence and sense of self.
Opening my front door that morning, I stood on an egg left for me by the duck. I found my daffodils had been vigorously assaulted by that revenge-addled waddler. Duck muck covered the car. Sustained pecking had chipped my beloved garden gnomes. When I put the bones and bits of it's mate in the refuse, the duck stood by the wheely bin, staring fixedly at the receptacle for 2 days, in a kind of perverse memorial vigil. It became vicious if anyone tried to access the container.
Unnerved by this revenge repertoire, I contacted the RSPB. They just laughed at me!
I broke down at work (by the fax machine) and confided to my colleagues that a duck was menacing me. After the comments of - "You're going quackers, Bill !" etc. Elaine, my AA, and also a holistic practitioner confided that she thought the bird was a reincarnated soul. At the moment she's interested in the English Civil War and thinks the duck could contains a Roundhead spirit. I believe it's something to do with the shape of the bird's cranium. Great, I thought, I'm being stalked by a web-footed Oliver Cromwell.
In the evening, the duck circumnavigates (via the air) my bungalow for about an hour, quacking its protest all the time. Oh how those quacks have begun to oppress my mind, for, encircled in its flight path, no room offers respite from its metronomic beak-bark. It has attracted the attention of next doors cats-Dimple and Ged. As the duck circles the bungalow, they leap into the air to try and catch it, meowing loudly with each leap. The duck just raises the level of its flight to escape their flailing paws and gnashing teeth. Sometimes, it dips down and comes around the corner at flower level, catching the cats off guard, sending them scurrying for their cat door. Watching these scenes, of bouncing felines and high-speed aggravated poultry, bathed in spectral moonlight, I feel my mind is beginning to totter, my reason begin to crack.
As I send this e-mail, I am under its surveillance from the window ledge. A quack, then a tap on the glass then another quack, just to let me know that it has not forgotten my combined cook and drive crime.
Will I never be set free?
Yours, in distress
P.S There has been a development with Ken. Two nights ago, the phone rang. On the other end I heard a person struggling to control intense emotions, the voice cracking and stumbling with each syllable. It was Ken. He must have seen this web site and was reaching out to me. For about a minute I listened to his distraught attempts to phrase a single word until I could bear it no more. At that moment there was the sound of a quack from behind me. Disorientated by this calculated intrusion on my personal life and also by my blighted sibling's verbal bumbling, I blurted down the phone -"Ken, I'm being harassed by a duck!" The ear-piece went silent, then a voice, slurred by excessive Malibu consumption piped out -"Ay, yer what.....a duck .... Bill....Bill ..I've 'ad a few drinks fer dutch courage an' yer confusin' me an'.an' I only wanted ter say.....wha..........arrrrrrgahhhhhhhhhhh!
Something had happened for I heard the sound of a severe thump and bottles breaking. Ken must have toppled over. Then the line went dead.
Will he ring again?