Nottingham positive-psychology folklore brought to life through the local vernacular.
Eh-up mi duck! Brews on duckie. Cheese cob alright for tea, duck? Stick wood i’ owl duck, it’s cow’d…!
(Hello my dear! Kettle’s boiled. Would you like a sandwich? Close the door if you’d be so kind (stick the wood in the hole), it’s cold!
Literally, ‘duck’ is a genderless, ageless term of highly evolved endearment for a person, like a combined version of dear, mate, friend, dude and occasionally sweetheart. It can mean a lot more than that, and I implore this ancient word to be taken up by and for anyone, anywhere. My Nan says it. Nottingham is full of plucky ducklings!
Amongst all the dialects of Britain, probably some of the most well-known are usually Northerners or Southerners, or some simultaneous combination of Scottish, Irish or Welsh. The English accent is used to covey a distant feeling of time in many motion pictures. Nearly everybody all over the world has heard of Robin Hood, with the legendary name also coming to describe the act of revolutionary wealth distribution itself.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, ’duck’ itself dates back to Old English, possibly as old as the known Robin Hood myth itself. There may even be room for semantic crossover between Robin Hood and the word duck as its usage persists, though this observation is based on no evidence whatsoever but my own. As a small bird that dives, to the act of dodging one’s body, plus other meanings subsequently formed by idioms, this richness is extremely relevant in the present day.
It’s fair to say that truths regarding the human condition are held by the subtext of duck’s usage as a term of endearment. Whilst Stoke-on-Trent and Mansfield may or may not have historical claim to the word as well, it’s some kind of humanist Nottingham spirit that I feel is displayed by the very Zen in this small word. Which bird is the word…? How has it infiltrated our vernacular?
1. The struggle is real!
You’re waddling on land despite your webbed feet for swimming. Even though it’s another day at the rat race, your heart sings louder than your other, maybe more immediate, concerns. Nonetheless, these are all displayed to the point that an illusion of competence is maintained, and that is all anyone can do.
2. You’re doing well.
The pluckiness of ducks is shown by their all-round talents. They can go by land, air and water but visibly excel at none of them. Fish swim better. Pigeons advance the skies better than ducks. Swans elegantly swim the ponds better than any duck. Even humans waddle across land in a better mannerism than ducks.
3. I got your back if you need anything.
Ducks, and rightly so, are a species of of comraderie. Even though they may raise different families, each duck all comes bolting across the pond for bread that might be dropped by a passing human.
4. No point in complaining.
It isn’t worth complaining within the lifestyle of a duck. By virtue of being a duck, you’re not exceedingly good at any one thing enough to get by on that alone. So, like water off a duck’s back, what happens and is quackingly great becomes awesome, by virtue of a few enthusiastic quacks about the current situation.
5. Ducks get on with it.
As mentioned, ducks do not properly excel at any one thing. They make poor divers, which is why we bring our stale bread, though we don’t have to — because ducks still get on with it. In much the same way, if you have a friend who does not show unless invited, they are like a duck.
6. We are all ducklings.
Baby ducks waddle sometimes haphazardly away from mother duck, but in the end they all find their way. Unless they make friends with a dog, in which case they may take a while to catch up. The same can be said for people who have struggled with mental illness.
7. A duckling might take a while to “get it”.
In light of the above, a duck who has waddled too far from mother duck, or who takes an interest in things a duck might have no vested interest in, may become an ugly duckling. The way society is segmented through class and resources, some people may take longer to find the route, and that’s okay, because what works itself out in the end is good for everyone, ducks and people alike.
8. Ducks do no harm, but don’t take no shit!
There’s a video, somewhere, maybe others, of mother ducks who waddle her brood across a road and the drivers all have to stop because they are decent people who can’t bring themselves to mow down ducklings. This is great and should be encouraged, because when it comes down to it, regardless of species, we would all take our own past something dangerous, regardless of risk!
9. Ducks are masters of their own destiny.
Aside from the qualms of factory farming (which can be entirely avoided by committing to vegetarianism — yay!), ducks are in complete charge of their own subsistence. Just look at them by a canal or pond — they don’t give a fuck. This can be at their own peril, as existence is, but ducks have a certain method of self-preservation which means they are seldom spotted as roadkill.
10. Ducks have nothing to prove.
Aside from the team known as The Mighty Ducks (which I would know nothing about), ducks are not competition with other creatures due to their aforementioned inadequacies at things other creatures excel at. Their placid disposition towards life is irrespective of their (perhaps doomed) attempts to live within it, but they clearly get the most out of it nonetheless.
Deliberately, I have made no mention of how ducks have had to evolve a reproductive mechanism designed to stave off drowning each other through rape — through corkscrew genitalia, no less... But in humans, I think that is an issue best left to feminism.
Yet still, it’s clear to see how ducks have it easier in some ways than we do, so gawd bless ‘em. If we can relate to them in some way, it will help us in all of the aforementioned areas of life. This is how people from Nottingham (and possibly Stoke) still help each other in this unconscious way.