In my village, near the crossroads and under aging willows and large chestnut trees, you will find a brook. And every day most of the villagers go past it; maybe scooting to school, cycling to work or driving into town. Step away from the road for a moment and you can lose yourself for a few vital minutes in a slice of utterly British life. There is a play park and an old historic water pump, a white wooden bridge and areas of grass to play on or to feed the laughing ducks.
Two new ducks turned up just over a week ago. So far we have had a growing crowd of Mallards, a few odd white ducks, broods of fluff-ball ducklings and a single, grumpy Muscovy. Now we have Visitors.
There has been a lot of chatter on social media about our new ducks. The long-running good-humoured debates on whether it is a pond or a brook, or whether children should wear cycle helmets for protection when collecting conkers (and whether this is satire or not) have been put aside. For one thing, the Visitors have turned up, realised they are on to a Good Thing and decided to stay for a while. They are first in the queue whenever a baby buggy arrives promising bread or seed, wobbling over and asserting their place in the pecking order.
No one was really sure What they were, however. We’re a well-read lot here, but these birds are rather different and seemed to defy the usual lists. They are larger than the regular ducks, have a black coat with a beautiful green sheen on the wings and white around the eyes, like eyelashes. The beaks are white and pink and their feet are dark brown.
My money’s on them being black muscovy ducks, perhaps flying over last week and noticing what a lovely village duck
pond brook we have. I’m sure they’ll get fed well here, and perhaps even something of a reputation. Part of me hopes they do stay; it’s a friendly place where everyone is welcome regardless of background or what we look like. For me, what makes our slice of utterly British life even more special is our willingness to adopt and accommodate. It doesn’t make us less British. It makes us more human.