I am writing this on Valentine’s Day, but it seems that love isn’t all it’s quacked up to be!
Just the other day I was chatting to a friend who is lucky enough to live in Downham, arguably one of Britain’s prettiest villages and the scene of many a lingering soft focus panorama shot in the BBC’s “Born and Bred”. Yet it seems all is not well in this Pendle-side paradise and the cause of it all is... love.
One of the things which brings visitors to Downham – apart from the idyllic scenery and the “Ormston” connection – is its ducks. But my Downhamite friend was close to exploding at the alarming death rate as ducks meet drivers.
Even at the best of times, ducks are not known for their intellectual magnitude. Think of a duck and you are more likely to think “Daffy” than “doctorate”.
Yet even the dimmest of ducks can be credited with a modicom of roadsense.
Seeing a ton of motor car trundling towards him might persuade even the most moronic mallard that now would be a good time to vacate the village highway and seek the sanctuary of its stream.
Why then are so many of Downham’s feathered residents turning up squashed flat on its quiet country lanes? The answer, according to my friend – and she should know, having lived there for quite some time – is that these dearly departed ducks were deeply in love.
For this, apparently, is the time of year when a drake starts to quake and a duck fancies her luck, when love is in the air and even the glossiest feathers cannot fend off Cupid’s tiny arrows.
And there is nothing quite some gormless as a lovestruck duck.
While a motorist might reasonably expect a duck to waddle out of the way, albeit grudgingly, at any other time of year, no such assumption should be made when a duck’s thoughts are turned to matters of the feathery flesh.
Duck love, I’m told, is all-consuming, so much so that a besotted bird will take root on the Tarmac completely oblivious to the Chatburn charabanc bearing down on it, totally deaf to the blaring of its horn, and unaware even of its own grim demise until it is sporting a shiny new halo or becoming crispy duck down below.
You could discharge a blunderbuss, let loose a hungry fox or chuck orange sauce all over it, but you will not rouse a duck in love from its romantic reverie.
Oddly enough, I have known quite a few people who have behaved similarly when overcome with amorous intent. Fortunately, in all but a very few cases, this condition seems to be temporary.
So dear reader, when motoring through Downham, or any other place where you might happen upon a duck impeding your progress, please be patient. Think fondly of that time when you first fell head over heels in love and realise that, to this duck at least, you and your pressing business are entirely irrelevant. Do not run over him, lest he forget to duck.