Ducks

I walked past a flock of ducks this morning, swimming and waddling their way into the days, and they reminded me not only of how much I have always loved them and their comical essence, but of hearing the actor Samuel West talking about them on the radio recently. He referred to the days in which there was regular talk of “a three-minute warning”, and explained how in the event of such, he had decided he would like to spend his 180 seconds feeding ducks. As I listened, I was transported back to my own childhood – not only the ducks in it – but to Raymond Briggs and the terrifying prospect that nuclear attack and its consequences could be as close as just three-minutes away.

Had there ever been an attack, an announcement such as this would have followed:

“This is the Wartime Broadcasting Service. This country has been attacked with nuclear weapons. Communications have been severely disrupted, and the number of casualties and the extent of the damage are not yet known. We shall bring you further information as soon as possible. Meanwhile, stay tuned to this wavelength, stay calm and stay in your own house. Remember there is nothing to be gained by trying to get away. By leaving your homes you could be exposing yourself to greater danger…”

Thankfully we never had to adhere to the advice, which goes on to warn against flushing toilets and only using water for “essential drinking and cooking.” One can only imagine, given the gravity of the scenario, that feeding the ducks might not have been the best course of action. That said, I can fully understand why Samuel West might have wanted to.

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