Friday, October 06, 2006

Remorse for the Goose

I am becoming increasingly concerned about the situation in my local duck pond. One of the great things about being a freelancer is the ability to organise my time how I want. I genuinely work very hard, but I do like being able to go for a walk in the park when it suits me. I like to see the seasons change, and notice small differences in the plants and animals each day. And the duck pond situation is worrying me.

There are lots of mallard ducks that happily fly, swim, waddle and dive in the pond together. There is also one solitary goose that doesn’t seem to mix much with the ducks, preferring to just idly peck the grass on the edge of the pond and occasionally stand knee-deep in the water.

At first I thought that this goose was really cool. That because of his size and uniqueness he was king of the other birds, and they all respected him. But seeing this lone goose every day over the past couple of weeks I have developed a new theory. I now think that this goose is like the older kid at school who had no friends in his year, and had to hang out with kids a couple of years younger. And even those kids secretly, or sometimes openly, mocked and despised him, but just by virtue of his size and age they couldn’t shake him off. It is like The Ugly Duckling, but in reverse – Goosey No-Mates. It might make a good children’s story.

Perhaps the goose woke up one day to find that all the other geese had played a trick on him – they had left a note saying they had flown south for the winter, but didn’t tell him where. So the poor goose was left to hang around with the ducks, pretending that he preferred their company anyway, thanks for asking. Yesterday, I looked deep into the goose’s eyes, and just for a second we connected on a primal level and I saw the sadness in his soul. I was like St Francis of Assisi. I knew that I had discovered the truth, and I was not assuaged by the fact that he then did a big poo and waddled off.

That evening, my girlfriend came home from her proper job. Like the great boyfriend that I am I asked her how her day was. She told me about an Afghani woman in her class who had written about how she saw her family killed in front of her. About how she had to flee her homeland with nothing and try to settle in a strange new country. My girlfriend showed me the piece of writing. It was devastatingly sad, and was made even more poignant by the fact that this educated woman was writing in an unfamiliar script, so her letters were scrawled like a young child’s.

My girlfriend then asked me how my day was. I hesitated, and then decided to leave the whole anthropomorphised duck pond scenario for another time.