Only in England: Where tortoises wear crash helmets and ducks can fill the Royal Albert Hall


(They kill playwrights, don’t they…?)

You know that old Greek fable about the tortoise and the hare, I suppose. If not, here’s a very brief summary:

They held a race. The hare lost.

(As far as I know, the tortoise wasn’t tested for steroids.)

Of course, these days you wouldn’t be able to organize such a contest – not without the Health & Safety mob breathing in your neck and turning a simple running track into a highly complicated steeple chase circuit, inside a rubber tiled maze.

For one, I’m sure they would make the participants wear crash helmets. Especially the tortoise. You know how those creatures love speeding and are so vulnerable that, if you drop them from great height, this will always lead to fatalities.

Not resulting in the demise of the tortoise, of course. If we believe another Greek story, that is, in which it is claimed that the playwright Aeschylus was killed by a tortoise that had fallen from great height on the writer’s head, after it had been dropped by an eagle (which may or may not have mistaken Aeschylus’s bald head for a bit of rock.)

Anyway, talking of tortoises – and crash helmets:

“Vets have fitted a ‘crash helmet’ on a giant tortoise to protect him while a hole in his shell grows over. Timmy is thought to have been hurt in a fight with a rival tortoise at their home in Paignton Zoo, Devon. Zoo vets came up with the idea of covering the wound in the Aldabra giant tortoise to keep it clean and protected during the slow healing process.”

Which, you have to admit, makes quite a bit more sense than you would have any right to expect from a story that carried the words ‘tortoise’ & ‘crash helmet’ in its headline.

Unfortunately, you can’t say the same about the following animal related tale – but that’s not all that surprising. When it comes to common sense I would bet on a zoo vet against any more posh kind of white coat, whenever the twain would meet to compete.

It’s like that tortoise & hare story, really. The hare might have a string of impressive doctor titles after its name but you just KNOW the tortoise will beat it handsomely, with or without the benefit of a crash helmet.


Onto the story itself though.

It’s about a duck called Daisy and some daffy scientist from the University of Salford:

“Scientists say they, with the help of a farmyard duck called Daisy, have sunk an enduring theory that a duck’s quack does not produce an echo. Acoustic expert Professor Trevor Cox began the investigation at the University of Salford after hearing the myth referred to on several TV and radio programmes. First Daisy was recorded quacking in a special room with jagged surfaces that produces no sound reflections. Next she was moved to a reverberation chamber with cathedral-like acoustics. Finally, the data was used to create simulations of Daisy performing at the Royal Albert Hall.”

That last bit really does sound silly, doesn’t it?

I mean, why not let the duck perform in the Royal Albert Hall itself? I’m sure that would have been a much cheaper option.

What’s more, I’m sure our Daisy would have been vastly more entertaining than the ‘Land of hope and glory’ crowd that usually manages to fill the place.

(The start of this clip would have been SO much better if Daisy had been the leading lady…!)

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