The Plastic Hippo

July 1, 2012

The Great Chuckery Duck Rescue

Filed under: Walsall — theplastichippo @ 5:11 pm

The key factors in successful parenting involve a variety of skills and abilities as well as the capability to improvise. However, it said nothing about duck wrangling in the job description or person specification.

Proof reading and double checking a report to be presented at an impending meeting, a hammering on the front door revealed a distressed teenage daughter who was jabbering more incoherently than usual. On her way back from the shops, it seems she encountered some natural catastrophe, civil insurrection or possibly a plague of locusts and all efforts to persuade her to speak slowly and clearly had the opposite effect. The only understandable words to emerge from the shrieking cacophony were: “Dad, help, do something.” Now Dads are infallible, brave and omnipotent, so the report was abandoned and the alpha male hit the street ready to fight off Genghis Khan and all his marauding hoards, fascists, parking wardens, double glazing salesman and every inmate of the Jeremy Kyle Show. But, instead of head butting an incoming meteorite out of the way, this one man citizen`s army was confronted by a family of ducks.

If the years of quoting Shakespeare and Wittgenstein over the dinner table were to mean anything, Dad`s reputation as a smart arse would count for nothing if this lost Mallard Drake and her nine ducklings were not rescued and returned to their natural habitat. Now considerably less agitated due to the attention of an all powerful Dad, the eco warrior virago explained that the ducks were waddling down the middle of the road and were being narrowly missed by passing traffic. “Do something, Dad.” Jemima Puddleduck and her offspring had retreated to an alley to escape the onslaught offered by Dunlop, Michelin and Pirelli. It was probably unwise to mention that the alpha male`s only experience of dealing with ducks involved the words crispy and Hoisin sauce. Sometimes it is necessary to make your children cry.

A plan, however, was quickly formed. The hippo estate was roused and various fledglings rallied to the cause. It was clear that Jemima knew where she wanted to be and nothing was going to stop her leading her new born ducklings to the water in the Arboretum. A large cardboard box was fetched up and a runner was dispatched to try and locate a wildlife warden who do such remarkable work in Walsall`s finest asset. On a steep learning curve, a valuable lesson that should be passed on is that ducklings are not attracted by chocolate covered Hobnobs.

Our environmentalist endeavours soon attracted considerable attention both from neighbours and people passing by. The good people of Chuckery came out in force to protect and save this struggling mother and her children. The focus of the discussion was twofold: how to round the little buggers up and how to get them safely across the Broadway and into the Arbo. At this point, Jemima and her nine balls of fluff made a break for it. There can be nothing quite as funny as seeing rational, grown up people lying flat on the pavement and calling: “come here little duckling” into the space underneath a BMW.

What happened next compounded the surreal experience. A lovely woman came rushing down the street to join us. “Oh thank God”, she said, “they are safe.” It seems that she had driven past the associates of orange sauce an hour previously and at some distance away from the current duck rodeo. She then parked her car and undertook a search for the peripatetic wild fowl on foot. “Do we still have six chicks?” she asked. “No”, said the virago, “we have nine.” Quite how this duck managed to guide her ducklings across an urban landscape, crossing busy roads and avoiding the evil that is the domesticated cat is remarkable.

Drakes, it seems, build their nests away from the breeding grounds to avoid further attention from horny male ducks. The nests are usually made in an elevated position as protection against predators. Given the implacable logic of natural selection, if the hatchling is robust enough to survive the fall, it is strong enough to walk back to the water. “Quack”, said Jemima. Adopting an outrageous Belfast accent, I replied with “I`m going as quack as I can”. This seemed to amuse the children.

Eventually, we herded the ducklings into the cardboard box and a very noble man offered up his coat to cover the box to stop the little sods jumping out. Jemima Puddleduck at this point was furious, but not as furious as the man in the Range Rover when faced with a Dad on a mission stopping the traffic on Broadway North. This charming man shouted “f**king w***ker” as the box of ducklings was conveyed across the road near to the Park Tavern. Obviously distressed, Jemima took to wing and flew across the carriageway to be with her offspring and with perfect timing crapped all over the windscreen of Range Rover man. If only such serendipity could occur in fiction.

Reunited, the family waddled down the path towards the water with the tiny ducklings falling over each other as they attempted to keep up with Mum. As they approached the brook that runs through the Arboretum, the small crowd that had gathered to assist the rescue let out a relieved cheer. The moment of smug self satisfaction was, however, short lived. The brook, swollen with recent rain, was fast flowing and four of the weaker newborns had difficulty in swimming upstream. Disaster seemed an inevitability, forcing the alpha male Dad to leap into the raging torrent and scoop up the runts that were in danger of being swept away. Having gotten this far, they were not going to be abandoned now. Happily, they were moved to calmer waters and rejoined Jemima and their stronger siblings.

After a quick change of trousers, shoes and socks, the alpha male arrived late at the meeting. Instead of offering the usual excuses of cancelled trains, gridlocked traffic and the incompetence of subordinates, the truthful justification for a lack of punctuality probably had a detrimental effect on the gravitas of the carefully prepared and rather serious report.

“Sorry I`m late, I`ve been rounding up ducklings.”



  1. A lovely vingnette of the travails of urban existence and human behaviour, both good and not so good.

    I will definitely use your excuse, but preface it with ‘Mallards, ladies and gentlemen’

    The Realist

    Comment by The Realist — July 2, 2012 @ 10:30 am | Reply

  2. Excellent –

    Comment by Loz — July 4, 2012 @ 10:53 pm | Reply

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