The Three Ducks

I was tortured as a baby. My mother, born German and a strict disciplinarian, indoctrinated me from birth that there is nothing to laugh about in life. That’s the funny part of my beginnings as a human being. But, I lie. I lie because after being in the world for a mere 3 months, I realised that humour is the spice of life. My parents were incredible. The only real thing that still worries me are ducks. You see, when I was this gurgling, poeffing, snotty nosed little baby, my mother suspended three Donald Ducks across my cot. When I was told to go to ‘sleèeeeeeeeéeëeêeeępies’, all I could view from my cot-angle were the white ceiling boards and 3 ducks. Walt Disney created Donald Duck ‘anthropomorphic’ in 1934. My mother didn’t know what anthropomorphic meant in English so she never told me. I think it means an animal with human characteristics. So, ever since I was a child, I have had these 3 ducks flying around and around, back and forth, in my head. The duck problem started, as many other problems did, in God’s own county —- Staffordshire, England. In a ceramic factory in Stoke-on-Kent, 11 years before my birth, the first Mallard Duck figurines were made. Anas platyrhynchos ducks, or Wild Ducks, are found worldwide. The males have green heads. These 3 flying ducks have migrated in flocks to entrance, living and kitchen walls around the globe. As a lover of South African kitsch, I have been trying for almost 60 years to saturate my appetite for these ornamental ducks. The original ducks can now also be found made of wood, embroider art, plastic, wallpaper, acrylic cutouts and an assortment of mobiles. I have travelled the back roads, gravel roads and far roads of South Africa to shoot the ducks and photograph the people who hang them on their walls. I have found them in houses as far away as Soebatsfontein, Bamboesbaai, Riemvasmaak, Platbakkies and Compensation Station. My dream is to one day buy an old country inn and call it ‘Duck Inn’. Each room is going to have a set of flying ducks, but being slightly alternative, the small duck will be flying in front of the larger ducks. The passages, dining room and bar will be plastered with ducks. The staff will all be from Malawi, dressed up as ducks. They will wear white-feathered overalls with green caps and yellow shoes and socks. Each time that they serve you a drink they will go ‘Quack-Quack’. We will start the annual Duck Festival and amongst all the ducking, diving and waddling we will select Mr and Miss Duck. This image of three brass ducks in a basket I found in the Wartrail Valley.

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