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The collected opinions of an august and aristocratic personage who, despite her body having succumbed to the ravages of time, yet retains the keen intellect, mordant wit and utter want of tact for which she was so universally lauded in her younger days. Being of a generation unequal to the mysterious demands of the computing device, Lady Bracknell relies on the good offices of her Editor for assistance with the technological aspects of her journal.

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Location: Bracknell Towers

Sunday, November 23, 2008


I thought this was one of those things that everybody knows. But the Dude didn't. So it may not be quite so well-rooted in the British subconscious as I had assumed...

In the picture above, there are three mallards, a pigeon, a coot and a moorhen.

How do you remember which of the little, black water birds is a moorhen and which one is a coot?


No-one is ever described as being as bald as a moorhen.

The coot is on the right.

The Editor


Blogger Scriptor Senex said...

It never ceases to amaze me when watching adults with their youngsters responding to the question "What's that?" with something totally different. "What's that?", pointing to a Common Darter dragonfly. "A butterfly?" comes the shameless answer. Not even an "I think!"

3:44 pm  
Blogger Lady Bracknell said...

In my day, a curious child was presented with a jumble sale copy of The Observers Book of British Beasties...

3:50 pm  
Blogger Dr. Dan said...

Hmmm, I can't see how it's bald? For other mnemonics and to create mnemonics try this site and please tell your friends should you enjoy it. D.

4:27 pm  
Blogger Lady Bracknell said...

You expect these sorts of things to make sense??

I suppose the patch of white feathers is vaguely reminiscent of a tonsure...

But, yes: bald as a coot. Pale scalp showing through ever-widening parting. Odd little birds, coots. And moorhens, too, if it comes to that.

They're all very hungry because the ornamental lake in Sefton Park has been temporarily-drained for renovations. So they're all paddling about in not much more than a large puddle, and greeting anyone carrying bread rapturously.

6:07 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Surely "As bald as an eagle" or "... as a vulture" would be more apt.

Coots are such jolly little birds, I think we should all adopt the expression "As gay as a coot."

In my youth, my family always referred to moorhens as "clockwork ducks", an expression which lives on to this very day in the Dude household.

12:39 am  
Blogger Lady Bracknell said...

So, when you told me last week that, according to your pater, the only two types of bird in the UK are spadgers and yellowhammers, were you fibbing?

Are there, in fact, spadgers, yellowhammers and clockwork ducks?

9:57 am  
Blogger DD said...

Coot chicks, on the other hand, have bright red heads. They're all fluffy and cute, sort of punk ducklings.

7:00 pm  
Blogger Lady Bracknell said...


Should my new-found mobility last, I look forward to seeing some in the Spring.

7:06 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


(Note to self: LB actually pays attention when you are rambling on)

Hailing as I do from a family where everyone talks and nobody listens, I forget that people sometimes take note of what I say. It's a fair cop; there are indeed three types of bird! ;<)

11:22 am  
Blogger Lady Bracknell said...

"(Note to self: LB actually pays attention when you are rambling on"

I can't tell you how much past boyfriends have appreciated that particular skill...

5:46 pm  

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