Francis Meyrick

The Ducks of Finchingfield

Posted on February 29, 2008

Photo: cmiper

In the ‘Ducks of Finchingfield’, if the symbolism annoys or confuses you, the thing to remember is very simple:

it’s NOT a story about ducks. It is more a story about false appearances, and the latent hypocrisy of the super rich and predatory Freemasons who inhabit said village.

Several people have asked me if the car incident really happened: yes, just as described.

Others want to know: do mallards really behave that way?

Yes, they do.


There lies in Essex, England, an idyllic village. It is old and traditional. With a duck pond. Timber framed houses. Oldie world architecture. Thatched cottages.
Very nice…

At the heart of this village you will find a pleasant village green. Beside the duck pond.
Often the tourists come. Sometimes, in bus loads. On a warm, sunny weekend, you may find the place packed solid with a teeming mass of humanity. You may even, oh great horrors!, have difficulty in parking your car.

Why do they come?
To get away from their shapeless mass produced residential boxes? Just that? To ogle at a style of architecture that is beyond the skills of today’s space age apostles of design? All crooked and lop sided?

Maybe it is more. Maybe they come to catch a glimpse of something they feel is gone or going forever. A happier time. When little villages and village life dotted the landscape, with their close ties and communal caring.
The tranquil, pastoral life, the passing of which moved Thomas Hardy so much. Come back the days of ‘Tess of the d’Urbervilles’, when high rise tower blocks were unheard of, not even hinted at.
An idyllic time…
Oh, Lost Innocence, if but we could recapture the Golden Age of village life! When people cared for one another. When there wasn’t so much pressure, and materialism, and greed and ENVY. Those were happier, better times…
(shut up, Charles Dickens!)

Yes, maybe that is why all those day trippers come to watch the Finchingfield ducks. They seek a glimpse of an almost forgotten era, when village folk loved village folk, and all lived happily together.
Maybe they believe that one has a better chance of being happy living in a place like Finchingfield. Such a tranquil atmosphere! Oh, but to be able to afford a cottage in Finchingfield…

The ducks. The society of ducks. Who are fed so enthusiastically by children of all ages. Who paddle about so peacefully. Surrounded by plenty. Theirs is the ideal, caring society, is it not? A society at peace. With but the odd disturbance. Perhaps the mallards getting a bit carried away in the mating season.
Five suitors pursuing a single lady perhaps a shade too rapaciously. Jumping on her, pecking viciously at her, having their wicked way regardless of the lady’s unhappy squawking…
Regardless of her feelings…
Pretty rough, those unsuccessful suitors.
But that, surely, is about the only minor blemish on the character of the ducks of Finchingfield, is it not? Apart from that, all live happily together, Mummy ducks, successful Daddies, and frustrated suitors. All happy. No ENVY in duck society, is there? No green-eyed monster? No trying to keep up with the Jones ducks on the other side of the pond, is there?
A happy society. Surrounded by bountiful nature that provides these funny tall featherless ducks that never stop making funny noises (yak-yak-yak) and throwing goodies into the water.
But, as long as they throw the goodies. The ducks don’t care. They’re happy. A society without pressures.

Perhaps some of the tourists draw parallels between the tranquillity of duck society and that of Finchingfield village life. How could the village NOT be affected by the sweet living example of the Finchingfield ducks?
Such peace. Such tolerance. Nice.

Nearby is the tea house called ‘Jemimah’.
Nice. Good old Jemimah Puddle Duck. So appropriate. That lovely good natured (if slightly innocent) cartoon character, so beloved by children.
How appropriate. Sums up Finchingfield village life. Traditional. A haven of peace and quiet refuge. An image from the past.

Folk cannot fail to be caught up in the Finchingfield Effect. People are kinder there. More patient and tolerant of fellow man. All are affected. In a positive way. Even the traffic passing through. Cars slow down, when they come to the narrow stone bridge that crosses the duck pond. There are two reasons. There is only room for one car across the old bridge. And the ducks. Who frequently cross the road. Touching.

Mummy Duck. Proud of her brood. Followed by six or eight fluffy balls in a row. New recruits. Stepping out. Trying to march after Mummy. Sweet.

The traffic stops. Always. The Finchingfield Effect.
Let the ducks pass. And no matter how long the delay, the drivers all sit there, patient.
Gotta let the ducks pass…

Amazing how the Effect works. Perhaps it is true that the village affects folk in a good way. Everybody always stops for the ducks…

Well. Nearly everybody. Except the driver of the bright red Ford XR 3 that is.
Who accelerated. Deliberately. Crossed the white line. Deliberately.
Mowed down five of the six little fluffy soldiers strung out in the usual line behind Mummy. Roared off.
Bull’s eye!

Behind him, a frantic Mummy who has made the safety of the opposite kerb, distraught, all aflutter.
One little fluffy soldier, who has just witnessed carnage, running round and round in a little twelve inch diameter circle, rendered temporarily mindless with fright…
One furious lady driver, a two legged featherless Mummy, who was following our great and noble human being in the bright red Ford XR 3.
She has jumped out, tears pouring down her face, and shouts at the retreating Homo Sapiens:


But he can’t hear. If he did, he wouldn’t care less anyway.

She picks up the sole surviving soldier, who is still running around in his twelve inch diameter circle, and restores the only child to Mummy Duck.

Exceptional behavior, you say? People are not normally THAT callous, you say?
You’re probably right. Village life isn’t like that. The driver was obviously just a stranger passing through… There is far less ENVY and bickering and jealousy and greed in a nice village like Finchingfield.
Their society is more like the ducks. At peace. Only minor incidents. Generous.

Yes, the day tripper leaving after a hard day spent philosophizing about Man, and the meaning of Life, can cast a last lingering look at the ducks of Finchingfield.
If only all men could live at peace with one another, without the destructive viciousness of the politics of ENVY, and follow the example of the ducks at Finchingfield.

* * *

Evening has come. Most of the buses and tourist cars have pulled away. The teahouse is about to close.
The village is at peace.
Tranquility rules in the duck pond.

The mallards swim along, silently…

And the dark frustrated thoughts of the unsuccessful suitors…
who will pass by a solitary youngster, struggling to make progress with his early paddling lessons, on his own, venturing, perhaps for the first time, a smidgeon further away from Mummy…
an almost helpless bundle of fluff, in the first stages of the discovery of Life…
in an instant seized by the neck from behind…
so sudden, so deftly, that barely a squeak escapes the tiny beak before…
the youngster is held under water, for just a few seconds…

until he drowns.

Mummy, frantic, speeds across too late… arrives just in time to witness the upturned body of her offspring floating away downstream, lifeless…

And the cruel mallard, still brooding on jealous thoughts, glides away, darkly, silently.

Quiet satisfaction…

He arrives at the other side of the pond, where new human arrivals, who have not witnessed the cold blooded murder, exclaim in delight, and throw bread enthusiastically.


Last edited by Francis Meyrick on May 30, 2009, 8:46 pm

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