Never trust the word of anyone who works in a place called Poultry ‘R’ Us. I went there because my wife said that she would quite like some Indian Runner ducks to go with the chickens and goats that we already had in the back yard. The woman who sold us the ducks looked us up and down, registering that neither my wife nor I were wearing Wellington boots or Barbour jackets and made the snap judgement that we were probably townies and therefore willing to believe anything she told us.
|Indian Runner Duck|
“How old are they?” we asked her.
“Eleven weeks,” she lied.
“And will we need a pond for them?”
“No, just a washing-up bowl of water will do.”
We believed everything she told us. I asked her how much washing-up liquid I’d need to put in the water, but she just gave me a dismissive look and went off to talk to a couple who were wearing Wellington boots and Barbour jackets.
I needed to buy myself a new pair of Wellingtons because my old pair had been ruined by my two small boys when I was taking a break from dismantling the greenhouse. Their brilliant idea was to take a hammer from the shed and smash all the panes of glass I had just removed from the greenhouse frame. Not only that they decided that a better idea would be to jump repeatedly up and down on the panes of glass thus reducing them to tiny fragments. Finally, they thought an even better idea would be to get their plastic spades and fill my Wellingtons with the tiny fragments of glass and jump on them repeatedly until the glass was either permanently ingrained into them or returned to its originally sandy state. They were, of course, completely unwearable unless I decided to actually take out the offer of a lifetime membership to the local masochist society.
We called the ducks Zig and Zag and they eventually settled well into the garden with the twelve chickens. A week later my wife said she was going to visit a friend of hers in a nearby village and when she returned an hour later she was in possession of another two ducks.
“I’m calling then Jemima and Puddles,” she told me.
When we introduced the six Black Rock hens to the already established Isa Brown hens they were bullied mercilessly. The ducks, on the other hand, were different; when they met each other they just got on immediately.
“Hey,” one group said to the other. “You’re ducks – we’re ducks – let’s have a party!”
“Yeah,” said the other group. “Cool!”
The verbal exchange described above did not actually take place and was instead my feeble attempt at anthropomorphist humour; ducks can’t really speak English or even organise parties. They have absolutely no concept of sentence structure and would probably be extremely hard pressed to recognise the difference between a noun and a verb. Here’s a famous experiment that was carried out by scientists in the 1950s: a small child and a duck witness a rabbit running across a field to eat some cabbages and both of them have to describe to an adult exactly what they saw. The child, with his rudimentary grasp of the English language and using a combination of nouns, verbs and adjectives uttered the phrase, “White Rabbit runs to eat cabbages,” whereas the duck used a relatively simpler one word interpretation – “Quack!”
The famous experiment described above did not take place, ever at any time – I just made it up.
We now had four ducks and twelve chickens in the garden and all went well – for a short time. Apparently the only way to tell whether a duck is male or female is to wait and see if the tail feather curls up; if it stays straight it’s a duck but if it curls up it’s a drake. Jemima’s curled up and so she became Jim.
With only one duck amongst three drakes competition became so fierce that the drakes started to perform unnatural sexual practices with the hens. Jim was the ringleader – he was also the biggest. Beautiful and proud looking, he had a bright orange bill and pure white plumage that gave him an almost angelic appearance, but which disguised an unfortunate mean streak.
If there was an alternate world where ducks had become the dominant species, Jim would be the one hanging around street corners with his gang of miscreants, joyfully relieving older ducks and drakes of their pension books and bottles of Advocaat as they stepped out of the local Post Office or Off Licence. He’d be the one who would take an innocent duck to Blackpool for a dirty weekend and, once ensconced in their plush hotel room, he would call for room service to deliver a bottle of champagne and a condom. The waiter (probably a fox in this alternate world) would pour out the champagne for the two young lover ducks and would pass the condom over saying, “Would you like me to put that on your bill, sir?” Whereupon Jim would cry, “Do I look like a pervert?”
But all that is just speculative fantasy – in reality he was the most powerful of the birds in the yard and so he got first pickings while the other two drakes had to make do with the hens. One duck, however, was not nearly enough to satisfy Jim’s constant sexual cravings and so he too wasn’t averse to taking advantage of one or more of the now terrified hens.
Apparently all males, whether they’re ducks or humans, only think of one thing – sex. A survey once famously revealed that men think of sex every six seconds and if that’s the case I must be thinking about it now. Sex is what drives us men (and now), it’s what motivates us (and now), it’s part of our genetic make-up (there I go again). We men will do absolutely anything if there is even the tiniest prospect of a sexual liaison with our partners. We’ll do the washing up, tidy up the house, even repair that shelf in the airing cupboard that we keep saying we’ll do but never get around to. We’ll buy flowers, send Valentine cards, write soppy poems, splash out on expensive meals; we call it being in love but actually it’s lust. Women have a far better understanding of what love is than we do. In fact women have a far better understanding of just about everything than we do.
A perfect example of the vast gulf that exists between men and women is the public toilet. Step into any Ladies toilet and you’ll find a small haven of peace and tranquillity. It will be tastefully decorated and will invariably contain a round table in the corner upon which there would be a small vase of flowers and a bowl of potpourri. It will be a delicate area filled with a clean and pleasant aroma where you wouldn’t feel out of place quietly sipping a fine glass of Chablis whilst slowly nibbling away at a few smoked salmon sandwiches.
The Gents, however, is like a vision from Dante’s Inferno. The first thing that hits you is the smell – like someone has died in one of the cubicles and has been lying there undiscovered and putrefying for several weeks. When you overcome the initial stench you start to move cautiously forward because the floor is awash from the overflowing urinals that have been clogged with old dog ends and chewing gum. It’s not hard to imagine that if Gents toilets had been around in the fourteenth century they would have probably have been the catalyst that kick-started the Black Death.
I once sneaked into a Ladies toilet when I was stationed in West Germany with the Royal Air Force and to my horror I found something in there that our toilets would never contain – soft paper. We men had to make do with Government Property toilet paper.
Government Property toilet paper had the consistency of tracing paper and was therefore incapable of absorbing any form of moisture. It had the words GOVERNMENT PROPERTY stamped on every sheet to prevent (I can only assume) people from stealing it. Why anyone would want to steal this stuff was beyond me, unless they were going to use it as some form of building material.
There was some graffiti in one of the cubicles of the Gents toilet that read:
The truth is men and women are incompatible. Putting the obvious comparisons aside, men are so different to women I’m amazed how so many marriages have lasted so long.
Consider these twenty facts, m’lud:
- · We make lists about absolutely everything,
- · When we’re not making lists we’re thinking about sex,
- · We pick our noses when we’re driving, thinking that no-one is watching,
- · When we’re not picking our noses we’re thinking about sex,
- · We rearrange our genitals in public,
- · When we’re not rearranging our genitals we’re thinking about sex,
- · We fart loudly and think it’s the funniest thing we’ve ever heard,
- · When we’re not farting loudly we’re thinking about sex,
- · We point and laugh at people who are less fortunate than ourselves,
- · When we’re not pointing and laughing at less fortunate people we’re thinking about sex,
- · We like our CDs to be the right way up when we put them back in their cases,
- · When we’re not putting our CDs back in their cases we’re thinking about sex,
- · We collect geeky things like comics, beer mats, Star Trek DVDs and Star Wars collectable action figures,
- · When we’re not collecting geeky things we’re thinking about sex,
- · We have fits of apoplexy when our children wilfully destroy the packaging on the Star Wars collectable action figure we bought them for Christmas,
- · When we’re not having fits of apoplexy we’re thinking about sex,
- · We don’t listen unless it’s about something that directly affects us and when we’re found out we blame our partners for not making themselves clear enough.
- · When we’re not not listening we’re thinking about sex,
- · We think about sex all the time,
- · When we’re not thinking about sex we’re thinking about sex.
In short we annoy the hell out of our partners. We don’t do it deliberately – we do it because we don’t understand them. We are masters at misinterpreting the signals given off by our partners because we are too busy thinking about sex and so we are constantly in trouble.
Am I like the men I have described above?
Guilty as charged, m’lud.
My wife once told me that the thing I do that irritates her the most is breathe.
There are actually small things that every man does to deliberately annoy their partners. Every man has his own individual bit of annoyingness. One of mine was this: for many years, whenever we sat down to watch a film my wife would always ask me what it was about and I always responded by saying, “It’s about a cop and a criminal,” regardless of the film’s subject and content. This drove her up the wall and I knew it drove her up the wall but I did it all the same because I derived a kind of perverse pleasure from it. Usually she just glared at me before resigning herself to the fact that she would have to discover for herself what the film was all about – unless, of course, it was about a cop and a criminal.
It all started a few years earlier when we sat down to watch the film Heat starring Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro.
“What’s this about?” my wife asked.
“It’s about a cop and a criminal,” I replied, because that was what it was about.
“All right,” she said, “but what’s it about?”
“A cop and a criminal,” I repeated.
“You’ve already told me that. I know it’s about a cop and criminal, but what’s the story about?”
“I don’t know. I’ve not seen it before. All I know is that it’s about a cop and a criminal.”
The last time I tried the cop and criminal routine was when we watched Minority Report, but before I could give her my usual response she added, “And if you tell me it’s about a cop and a criminal I’m going to slap you.”
I was treading on dangerous and unfamiliar ground and I had to think fast, whilst considering the consequences attached to an inappropriate answer. Eventually the exact wording formulated in my mind and I delivered my brilliant and witty response, “It’s about a member of the law enforcement community and a perpetrator of non-legal acts.”
I got slapped.
Jim needed a slap for what he was doing to the hens, but instead we decided to get rid of him and see if that resolved the back yard situation. I suggested that he might go well with some nice orange sauce and a few buttered potatoes, but unfortunately my wife wouldn’t entertain that idea.
We decided in the end to give him to a friend of ours who had just had her ducks decimated by a fox and all she was left with was two females.
The last we heard was that he was very happy.
Men, as my wife often points out, are easily pleased.