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Like water off a duck's back

(Page 2 of 2)



Her strange unadventurousness had an effect on Dally (the aforementioned drake). He obviously approved of the arranged marriage, and took to his new wife at first sight. But it was the second sight that gave him pause for thought. He rushed in and knew little or nothing of the tread of angels. Sally's heart beat wildly -- and visibly -- it is true, but from sheer terror. The drake was stopped in midwaddle: this small lady was not at all the same as Dilly (whose sad encounter with Monsieur Reynard is another story). Sally (probably she would have been better named Silly) needed a much more subtle approach, a finer sensitivity, even a certain gentlemanliness: not things for which this big and rumbustious green- headed lad had hitherto been famous. So he had to learn. He too began to spend his time in the shadows behind the greenhouse ruin. Neither of them went near the garden pool. They didn't eat, apparently. They just sat in a kind of dream, three feel from each other, he facing forlornly outwards, she facing demurely inwards.

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Then came the thunderstorm. The Scots, of coursE, don't do things by half measure and evidently feel that if it is rain that's wanted then rain it will be. As an alien Englishman I've discovered that the weather is a matter of acute national pride up here. The soutehrn Englishmen who pronounce on such matters over radio and telelvision seem aware only of Hertford, Hereford and Hampshire and they should just hearm the things that are said about them in the land of Burns and Scott. "Once again," they say, with a mixture of glee and disgust, "they've IGNORED US."

It happened that the Scottish thunderstorm in question came suddently after three weeks of particularly fine weather. During those three weeks the rest of Britain had had the worst rains for years. Did the BBC mentions Scotland's sunshine at the time? No, it did not. did it mention the thunderstorm whe it came? Well, yes, it did -- because it was to their credit to do so. It said that Glasgow had had more rain in five hours than London had had all month. There was a RIOT north of the Border. . . .

However, in the midst of all his national competitiveness, everybody overlooked one remarkable bonus: which was that while continuous rain of the English variety never cured a shy Khaki-Campbell duck of its shyness, a real, rollicking, wild, uncouth, clashing and bashing, spitting and spouting Glasgow storm did. Out she came, our wee Sally (with Dally following ditifully), and rushed with exultant, tail-wagging, wing- spreading, neck-stretching spurts and dashes up and down the garden, in and out of sopping heavy-bloomed peonies, striking horror into the as-yet-unformed hearts of lettuces, intimidating irises. Worms were taken by surprise and gobbled, as by the Hun. She scooted and splashed all over the place as lightning forked and the torrents fell: "Blow , winds, and crack your cheeks! Rage! Blow!/You cataracts and hurricanoes, spout/Till you have drench'd our steeples, drown'd the cocks!. . . ."

Lear and I are nothing compared with this brown bird when it comes to storms: she had found her element and was a New Duck.

That which ha th made us wet, hath made herbold.m