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Like water off a duck's back

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As far as I know King Lear and I have only one thing (apart from nationality) in common, and that is a certain penchant towards thunderstorms. There is something about them (as Bernard Shaw, I believe, put it, in quite different circumstances) that "stimulates the phagocytes," whatever they might be. Or if it doesn't do that it at least stirs the imagination. Like Beethoven's Fifth, thunderstorms make a thoroughly inspired noise.m

I do know, of course, that thunder and lightning can be atrociously destructive and devastating, and also that there are those who prefer to witness them underneath a cushion or even a bed: but i've decided that the thing to do is openly enjoy them for all they're worth, and I was delighted to discover the other afternoon that it is not only Shakespeare's huffy monarch and I who feel this way -- but Sally as well.

Sally, in fact, was about the last individual you would expect to relish the flash and fury of anything. Anyone more timid and reticent would be hard to think of. She is the only duck i have encountered, in well over a decade's acquaintance with Muscovies, Rouens, Aylesburies, Khaki-Campbells, and even, one summer, a family of wild ducks, who prefers to be inside a cardboard box than out of it. She was in one when we picked her up at Glasgow Airport (I'd better admit that she came to this convenient rendezvous by car, so we can't put down any of her tremulousness to jet lag) and, once come, I carried her in the box round to the back lawn.

The drake gathered himself to see what we had brought him: but she didn't want to see him at all, and dived and burrowed back into the hay, lining the box , as if she was a gerbil. Any other duck would have flapped out of the confinement in high dudgeon.

Sally, however, was a timid noun and not an intrepid verb, and showed every sign of even wishing she had never broken open her own shell in the first place. This box must have reminded her of this earlier packaging, and she was evidently trying to reverse an irreversible decision. After all, you canm throw an egg over a building without breaking it; instinctively, no doubt, she knew that the eggshell is the greatest little fortress in the world for the unextrovert -- and a cardboard carton the next best thing.


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