I’m clearly slow off the mark. As the cygnets get older and bigger and moult into their snow-white adult plumage, it has only just occurred to me ( some half-century or more late) that I – and all the other listeners to Uncle Mac – have been lied to all those years ago by Danny Kaye. Came as quite a shock.
There once was an ugly duckling, with feathers all stubby and brown
is bad enough, as most cygnets are pretty much grey, although to be fair you do see the occasional one which is a rather muddy brown kind of grey, if you see what I mean. But
And he went with a quack and a waddle and a quack
In a flurry of eiderdown
is clearly rubbish. Trust me, cygnets don’t quack: they whistle. And surely it would only be a flurry of eiderdown if the ugly duckling was an eider duck or some seriously unusual cross-dressing had been going on.
Don’t know which is the bigger shock. Danny Kaye lying, or me being so slow on the uptake concerning an iconic piece of music from my childhood.
I mean, what else from Uncle Mac is false? The Old Woman who Swallowed a Fly? High Hopes? Three Billy Goats Gruff? Even – may your deity forbid – Sparky’s Magic Piano? And now Uncle Mac is even being mentioned in connection with the Jimmy Savile sex scandal. With such rampant iconoclasm in these troubled times, just what can one believe these days?