Monday, May 17, 2010

Out for a duck

In times of gloom like yesterday, I reach for my copy of Brewster's Rogues, Villains and Eccentrics, a magnificent dictionary of bounders and lunatics, and seek succour amongst tales of men such as George Robert Fitzgerald, a man who trying to do "everything possible to make his father's life a misery ... [on one occasion] manacled him all day to a pet bear".  The dictionary is aided by the most heroic act of cross-referencing I've ever seen; you can happily carom through its pages all day, choosing between (on a single page chosen at random) butlers, indecently assaulted, butlers, levitating and butlers, murderous.  Its one flaw (or perhaps a virtue) is that all this cross-referencing makes for a big book; my hardback weighs three pounds, 2 ounces and thus it may not be very comfortable as bedtime reading.

Luckily my girlfriend doesn't feel too uncomfortable to be next to me when I'm reading it. You might consider purchasing the paperback version instead, although I don't know how much that weighs, cannot be held personally responsible for any hernia, misalignment of the spine or other dysfunction that might arise.

Starting at the back, I found a reference to zoophilia, avian.  See BROWN, JAMES (a pigeon).  For a moment I wondered if that had been what finished off the hardest working man in show business, but no: this was a nineteenth century cabinet maker and zoophilist.  He was
sentenced to one year's hard labour for committing an offence with a duck.  As Lord Coleridge was leaving court his clerk drew his attention to an unreported decision in the case of Dod in which it had been held that a duck was not an animal within 25 & 26 Vict. C100.61.
Now, I'm not quite sure what that legalese means, but it seems to suggest the English people of the time were either morally destitute, or biologically inept.

As a corollary to this, the case of Brown was cited in the case of a man accused in 1952 of "indecency with a pigeon in Trafalgar Square."  The defendant didn't get off.1

Donaldson went on to record that the 1952 crime was punished by a fifty pound fine, plus another tenner "for taking the pigeon home and eating it".2

Of course, for the purposes of research, I once had sex with a duck.

It wasn't all it was quacked up to be.4

[I'm still puzzling out whether I should say "morally corrupt and biologically ill-informed", or replace with "destitute" and "inept", or "repugnant" and "misinformed"; a few performances in front of paying customers may light the way on this one...]

1 Sorry.
2 Perhaps the chap had been adding his own special sauce.3
3 Again, I'm sorry. Very sorry.
4 So, so incredibly, sorry. You deserve better than this, I'm sure.


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