Sunday, 12 June 2011

Duck Day Afternoon

The annual duck race is as good a way as any to relax on a Sunday afternoon, even if it is the usual cool British summer temperatures. But hey at least the rain more or less held off. In other parts of the country, events were suffering due to the heavy rain; Andy Murray has been sitting in his dressing room all day, being unable to get onto court to play the final at Queen's. There were the odd spills at the Moto GP at Silverstone and various cricket matches were abandoned.

Nothing was going to stop the ducks. The crowd was large and they waited as the yellow plastic ducks were unceremoniously dumped out of a black bin liner into the river.  They should have floated gently downstream, flopped over the waterfall and swam over the finishing line in an orderly fashion, so that they could be netted and reacquainted with their bin liners. But these were Northern ducks. Plastic ducks with attitude. They headed straight for the bank and refused to budge. Only mass kicking and eventually, picking them up by hand and hurling them back into the middle of the river, seemed to further their progress. One hour later they had reluctantly crossed the winning post.

They ducks' behaviour had mirrored what had been happening in the local area over the past week or so. There had been fights, arrests, thefts and vandalism. The resulting publicity had not been good, making the headlines in several papers. It made the place look like Dodge City.

So it was nice to see a family day out and a community at peace. People picnicing by the river, watching their children mess about in the river, getting soaked chasing the badly behaved ducks. All went well until a small boy did not like the look of an older girl's wellies. He threw them into the river and they filled up with water and sank somewhere beneath the spray of the waterfall.

That's blown it, I thought. The glare the girl gave the little boy was piercing. He sensibly ran away, knowing that an enforced dive into the river was imminent.

It was time to go. Go and prepare for a trip I'm taking to Scotland tomorrow. I feel I've received some good pointers from how the ducks were rounded up. I don't think the elderly party will be so compliant.

We'll see.  

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