Monday, September 20, 2010


My name is Duck and I am a Globophobic.

I am afraid of balloons.

Really really.

For me, being in proximity to inflated latex is akin to entering a room with a lion in it. Heart pounding, blood pressure rising, hysteria, panic attacks and occasional fainting.

I take only small comfort from the fact that it is considered one of the top ten strange phobias in the world.

Most of my close family and friends know this and balloons are not in evidence at events that I am known to be attending. The Little Ducks understand and don't bring balloons home from parties.

One of the hardest things I have to do each year is pass under the balloon arch at the start of the Great Manchester Run. I have to do it or the electronic timer tag thingy on my ankle won't record my achievement.

It occasionally provides an opportunity for me to embarrass myself in public.

Which is nice.

At the height of the Glazer protests at Old Trafford last year, fans took to bringing yellow and green balloons to the game. My fellow fans in the North Stand were treated to the unexpected sight of me freaking out and screaming like a banshee when hundreds of green and yellow missiles rained down from the second and third tiers directly onto my head.

It took some persuasion for the stewards to put away the straitjacket and and stand down the men in white coats.

But to those who mock and scoff and torment people like me with strange phobias, beware!

Anatidaephobia is the fear that somewhere, somehow a duck is watching you.

Really, really.

In the weird and wonderful phobia charts, it's right up there with globophobia and its sufferers are subjected to the same level of mockery.

But sometimes there is method in the madness.

Ducks are in fact evil*.

Personally, I think one look into our cold, beady eyes should tell you this, but the big, fat, funny beaks lend us a benign, comic air.

Animal spin-doctor supremo Beatrix Potter did a fabulous propaganda cover-up with her delicate, anthropormorphic creation - Jemima Puddleduck - to the extent that parents willingly expose their offspring to certain death in parks and ponds around the country, with only slices of bread to pacify the ducks' voracious appetites.

So I was mortified to find the true nature of Duckkind exposed on Facebook this week. With no thought for the mass panic that could ensue, someone published this:

So now the world knows our secret** and anatidaephobics the world over can continue to sleep uneasily in their beds.

* Not as evil as rabbits, but getting there.
** Don't worry. The medication keeps me totally under control***
*** Although I couldn't entirely vouch for Tiddler.

Thursday, September 16, 2010


I knew I wasn't in Kansas any more, as I watched a lizard pushing a pram across the field.

The Little Ducks are in Spain and I am in a field in Derbyshire wearing armour, chain mail, a tail*, ears** and carrying a sword.

My face is painted white, silver and black and a laminated card hanging from my belt around my neck proclaims me as Uncia - Daemon Snow Leopard.

No, I haven’t been eating cheese late at night. This is for real.

I was always a big Dungeons and Dragons fan at university and I am still a big reader of fantasy novels. JP is also very into Magic Cards – thanks to the Crazy Russian generously gifting him a big box with some great decks in.

I am not a fan of computer games and virtual worlds and avatars. I’m quite enjoying this First Life, thank you very much. And besides, I wouldn’t fancy fighting Tiddler for access to the PS3, when there are vital, virtual football matches to be won and lost.

But it had never occurred to me that you could go and do this stuff in the real world

Oh Yes.

My name is Duck and I am a LARPer.

But this is not the stuff of serious re-enactment societies.

Oh No.

I spend my days and nights with vampires, werewolfs, goblins, orcs, trolls, elves, demons, incantors, necromancers, imps, and all manner of bestial and human creatures – not to mention the undead*** and the unliving***

There are rituals and rites to be performed, like short, improvised street theatre for an appreciative audience – but with the possible rewards of high scores and increased powers for the ritual subjects.

There are battles to be fought – honour to be upheld, nations to be vanquished and monsters to be overcome. I spent Saturday afternoon as a vengeance zombie, whose key characteristic was to regenerate after 10 seconds, each time it got killed. Just as well really, as my first foray into battle got me killed at least 10 times.

On the negative side there is some shopping to be done. Marks and Spencer doesn’t really cater for the kinds of outfits required and desired for LARPing. My wardrobe has distinctly more leather and fur these days – not to mention the daggers – locked away from Tiddler for safekeeping.

Oh, and of course there is a beer tent. Happily it seems that snow leopards like the black stuff as much as I do.

*made out of a scart lead and some suede curtains
** made out of leopard-print shoulder pads
*** Not quite certain of the difference yet.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Speaking in Tongues

I never hear the polite, quiet little text alerts on my mobile. Particularly if it's buried deep in my handbag or in my pocket.

Bli Guinness originally provided me with The Butler, but if the phone is within earshot of colleagues, Mrs Duck Senior or the Little Ducks, I then have a mad scramble to cut him off before he offers to tell callers to F**k Off.

Not good.

But now I have R2D2* - alerting me to the arrival of new texts with a cacophony of clicks, whoops and whistles - long enough and piercing enough to be heard anywhere.

I love it and I love the reaction it provokes when my pocket suddenly erupts with noise in a public place.

Yummy Mummy and I were queuing in the Fish Bar in Benllech, when R2 piped up from my jeans.

I let him finish, then turned to the man next to me who looked puzzled.

'It's a text translator' - I offer, by way of explanation. 'It means you don't have to get your phone out to read texts. it reads them out to you.'

'That's cool' - says he nodding in approval.

I wait a few seconds to see if there is a whiff of irony about him, but all I can smell is salt, vinegar and gravy.

I continue - 'Of course, you have to be able to speak R2D2, to understand the message....'

More sage nodding, 'Oh, absolutely' - he says.

I wait a few more seconds for the wet fish of enlightenment to slap him about the face then give up, collect my freshly fried cod and head for the car, avoiding the tumbleweed blowing gently down the hill to the bay.

*Actually it's just a recording of a child's toy, but sounds uncannily like the famous little droid. Funnily enough when I was looking for an image of R2 for this post, the first image I selected came from this site. I have downloaded a translation of Picture of a Duck. Just trying to work out how to post it here.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Morningtime 2010 aka Dawn of the Red

Morningtime has settled into a more civilised routine these days.

There are fewer awkward questions and even less bra-sniffing.

House rules are that all Little Ducks remain in their bedrooms until 7am. Spywatches and alarm clocks are provided to mitigate against claims of not knowing the time.

All good.

There are occasional blips. Tiddler has a tendency to slip downstairs and address the issue of an empty stomach or a need to compete in a PES10 World Cup competition using his body clock instead of an Accurist to calculate 7am; but generally goes about this in a stealthy fashion.

I choose to stroll downstairs at 7 to make my first brew; arrange breakfast; then head for a leisurely shower, having already put out uniforms and squeezed Aquafresh onto 3 matching toothbrushes.

Today I head down at 6.45 - the need for tea outweighing the need for bed - to be greeted by a scene from a comedy horror flick.

JP is in a school play, requiring a zombie costume. Last Hallowe'en I provided him with one, so as far as I am concerned we are all sorted. This morning he decides he needs new zombie trousers and takes it upon himself to dig out some old pyjama bottoms for the job.

He then selects the best red from my brand new Acrylics painting set and pinking shears from the sewing box, for the purposes of customisation.

Not good.

The front room, hall and kitchen have traces and splatters of blood red on furniture, floor and walls. Tiddler has joined in enthusiastically and both are also covered in red.

'They're not drying very well' - JP informs me, ruefully - ever the astute observer.

I send them to the shower and head for the pantry in search of a scrubbing brush and Marigolds, pausing only to put the kettle on Continuous Brew mode.