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Soup of This Day #108: Came The Deafening Roar Of Chickens In Choppers

December 8, 2011

A Pacific Black Duck
A Pacific Black Duck – Photo: JJ Harrison, 2009. JJ Harrison is not affiliated with Longworth72. Image cropped by Longworth72, who really likes ducks. They just seem like pleasant birds.

I used to like hiding out in the uni library. I’d hunker down behind a partitioned desk and read books that almost never had anything to do with my chosen study. I was a Physics major who liked to wile away hours reading about the history of the bicycle or the cultivation of bananas.

And I don’t like bananas.

I didn’t have a favourite desk – I used to float around, trying new locations out, seeing what worked for me. There was an extra benefit to this over and above finding a comfortable personal space – I got to read a lot of graffiti, some of which made me laugh, some of which made me think. Once in a down moment I noticed the following:

‘Imagine a wingless blue magpie standing on a mirror’

I remember seeing that and thinking, ‘Yeah… We all of us have a wingless blue magpie perched on a mirror.’

When I said ‘down’ I meant stinking drunk.

Library desks tend to have a better class of commentary than say, toilets. In your average toilet the writing tends to be crude and sometimes nothing more than hate-mongering. That’s not to say that you don’t get some gold in the lavatory too.

I used to work a research project at a neighbouring institution. My supervisor was a god in the field. A man who made grad students freeze with fear, let alone erratic undergrads with a fondness for beer. I met with his group once per week, on a Friday. We’d review my progress and set some tasks for the next 7 days. Invariably I’d spend 6 of those days cruising along before a mad panic and an exhaustive all-night scramble as I tried to generate meaningful data. Thus I’d rock up on Friday morning keyed on nervous energy and coffee. This may have led to me spending a bit of time in the toilets.

In one of the toilets I noticed a line up near the top of the cubicle wall. It asked, with small, neat printing:

‘Why do ducks have flat feet?’

This intrigued me. Enough for me to scan the walls for more. After a minute or 2 I found the answer, this time at the base of the wall and in the same, small, neat script:

‘To stamp out fires.’

I like ducks, wouldn’t dream of hurting them, but somehow this struck me as 1 of the funniest things I’ve ever read in a toilet. Later in the research group meeting I still found it hilarious and I sat there sniggering away at the concept of firefighting ducks. Possible because I was sniggering a lot and also I think because I was rocking backwards and forwards to the beat of my own internal caffeine drum I was exempted any difficult questions that day.

Today was a difficult day at work. I could have used an exemption and maybe a laugh but sadly there is no graffiti in our office toilet. Instead, when I got a break between meetings I checked out the latest sporting news. In particular both Mancunian teams had been dumped from the Champions League overnight and I wanted to read the post-match reaction from the clubs. Since I support neither and loathe 1 of them this may have been a little bit of schadenfreude.

Sir Alex Ferguson of United gave nothing away and nor did anyone from his club. There was not so much as a a nod or a wink post-match from them after they lost to Swiss side Basle, exiting after the group stages for only the 3rd time in 16 years. Roberto Mancini of City though had much to say to the press following his side’s exit, in spite of a 2-0 win over German giants Bayern Munich:

‘Usually with 10 points you always go through, 99% of the time.’

Hmmm, Roberto, usually, always, 99% of the time, I like to get some clarity in what I’m saying.

This year Man City were the only team out of 32 to have earned 10 points and yet failed to qualify for the next round. For the past 4 years this fate has befallen no one – In fact you have to go back to 2007, to Werder Bremen in Group A, to find another team to have earned 10 points but to have failed to get through. That’s 2 out of 21 teams that have scored 10 points so Mancini’s 99% is a little off the mark. To bolster Roberto’s case for being a little unlucky though, over the same period 10 teams have qualified with just 9 points and 5 have qualified with only 8. For 1 of those 9 point teams, Internazionale in 2010, it was to be a fortuitous pass mark as they went on to win the whole shebang that year.

Nonetheless 10-point City missed out this time around and to be fair to the Mancunian’s boss he wasn’t making excuses, just pointing out the statistical anomaly that is his side.

Another quote that caught my eye was a tweet from (now former) Perth Glory women’s football team star Emma Kete. Kete is a New Zealand international who was dumped from the Glory team, along with Norwegian international Lisa-Marie Woods, ‘for the benefit of overall team harmony’. Kete’s response to the twitterverse:

‘Leaving Perth this afternoon with my head held high.’

Which would have looked better if the Glory women hadn’t just lost 11-0 to Sydney FC’s women in a national W-League match. Most professional players might have been looking down at their boots after that shellacking.

Twitter is seemingly the new graffiti and it’s a great place to pick up some profound insights into the sporting world. Not every sporting personality is good at it. In the wake of the September 2011 implosion I was mostly hoping that Sox players for instance Would. Shut. The. Hell. Up. Liverpool players, likewise aren’t all that great with 160 characters.

Strangely enough the Fremantle Dockers do a decent job though and 1 of my favourites to follow is captain Matthew Pavlich (@mattpav29). The Pav can be entertaining and interesting it turns out, although his tweet about visiting the Yankees on a recent visit to New York was a little unnecessary.

Wrong. Ball. Club. Pav.

Yesterday though the Pav tweeted a link to a blog post that was about him, describing the article as, ‘Self indulgent but interesting read.’ The Pav was obviously referring to his linking to an article about himself as self indulgent rather than implying that the article itself was narcissistic but he was right about the read.

Also the Pav took the time to use punctuation in his tweet. Classy, that is.

After many weeks of returning to my favourite toilet cubicle with it’s darkly humourous take on duck feet I rocked up 1 day to find the cubicle taken. I considered waiting but with that amount of coffee a delay wasn’t optimal so I settled on the cubicle next door. As I sat down for a think my eyes went to the top of the wall by habit. To my surprise, written there in small, neat lettering was the following question:

‘Why do elephants have flat feet?’

The smile was already widening as my eyes dropped to the bottom of the wall:

‘To stamp out burning ducks.’

Came The Deafening Roar Of Chickens In Choppers

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