I rolled out into the kitchen a day or two ago. That's not a typo, by the way, because 'rolled' better describes my assisted walk than 'strolled'.
I rubbed my eyes in disbelief at what I was seeing on the ledge above the kitchen bench.
"A Dippy Duck?"
"It's a Duncan Duck," she said.
"I'll believe his name. What I don't believe is that you bought one."
"We had one of these when I was little," she said, a bit pouty, "and I just ... wanted him."
"You bought a Dippy Duck."
He was doing his thing, rocking back and forth, slower and slower, until the point at which he dipped his head in a strategically placed glass of water, and swung upright again, ready to repeat the performance. Ad infinitum he was capable of, as long as his bill could reach the water.
|Very modest version**
Well, just look at him. Would Michelangelo be keen to whip up his portrait or sculpt a Duncan rather than a David? You choose.
But then the lad came in. Twenty, he'll be in a couple of weeks. He stared long and hard at Duncan and his tireless antics. Antic.
He was entranced, but for neither entertainment nor artistic reasons. He's developed a passion for physics and chemistry – and mathematics. All the things he didn't want to study at school no way no how.
Better late than never, I suppose, but I wished many a night as he looked glumly at equations that his timing could have been better.
His interest was in how and why Duncan did his dunking. He's quick on the uptake with such matters when he wants to be, and worked out everything except the vital piece of chemistry; the bright blue fluid that Duncan harboured in his generous bladder. Fair enough; methylene chloride is not something you can guess, is it?
Once he'd solved the physics and chemistry of Duncan, he took no further interest in the performer, but went back to catching up on the five years of maths he spurned at high school.
I do have to say, in spite of my scorn for Duncan as an objet d'art, the science of what he does is quite amazing.* Sincerely. It does my heart good to see where university research grants went in the late 1940s, and one day, Duncan might make some unexpected contribution to human progress.
He's on his 9,786th dunk, day and night unceasingly as I write, and will probably make it to five figures well before you get this far, if you ever do. Tracey looks at him with great fondness and keeps his cup almost runneth-ing over. I suppose the 10 mls of water per day he needs aren't too hard on the budget. But being a snob, I just wish he wasn't the first thing guests see when they come in – although explaining the science of Duncan is a conversation-stopper.
Sadly, not often in a good way. People can be such peasants.
*A simpler explanation for the physics of Duncan the Duck for ummm... pheasants.
** Source for original David sculpture I added the generous figleaf myself. This you may have guessed.