Once upon a time there was a little red duck called Jeremy. He was shunned by the other ducklings on the pond who were a nice shade of light red, almost pink, unlike the strong scarlet of Jeremy’s plumage. But it wasn’t just the colour. The other ducklings – Tony, David, Ed and even that nice little Gordon – just couldn’t quite understand him; perhaps it was the accent, or perhaps the product of a poor education system? At times he seemed to be speaking a language foreign to theirs!
One day after years of teasing Jeremy, the gang woke up and found that he had grown into a rather attractive swan! They looked in astonishment at Jeremy swimming serenely along. And not only was he calm above the water, he no longer seemed to need to paddle furiously beneath the surface either.
But suddenly – to the amazement of all in view – up from behind the bushes (where she had been sharing a moment of quiet contemplation with her bestie Phil) leapt farmer Liz.
Without a moment’s hesitation she emptied both barrels of her shotgun (always kept loaded; oh how she longed for those days when foxes were fair game) straight into poor Jeremy. Red feathers everywhere.
“What the deuce did you do that for old gel?” asked Phil.
“Well” replied Liz, “My swans are supposed to be white. I saw a black one once – a portent of doom – and did nothing about it.”
“What happened?” Phil quizzed.
“There was a terrible storm about ten years ago. My house nearly fell down (in truth I couldn’t afford the mortgage but the nice man at the bank, Mervyn or Eddie I can’t remember which one, had told me not to worry about it) and half my money was washed away in the flood.”
With that, Liz turned on her heel and walked quickly back to her modest country abode. At her heels was her ever-faithful dog, Theresa, with a smile on her face (if indeed Corgis could smile).
Little did Theresa know that Liz had long had a hankering for something bigger, perhaps with a shaggier coat. Indeed, that very morning she’d been to the pet shop in Windsor and had started to look kindly on a golden Labrador answering to the name of Boris. He’d been a bit noisy, but in truth Liz worried his bark was worse than his bite. Still, if she ever needed a guard dog to ward off any more red swans, surely to goodness he’d be more use than Theresa?