Across Tennessee. By Kia.

There is a roundabout at Dollywood that is designed for little kiddies. They ride on large plastic ducks.

The Toddler climbs on to a duck. She has a look of utter delight on her face. Honestly, sometimes I could break down and weep at things like this. I would so like to be able to generate such utter delight just from sitting on a large plastic duck. If sitting on a large plastic duck was all it took, the world would be such a happy place. But at some point in everybody’s transition to adulthood the duck joy gets lost, and then there are wars and unemployment and the Daily Mail and stuff.

“Are you ready?” asks the lady who runs the duck ride.

She presses a button (or pulls a lever, or turns a key or something – I did not really get a close look, and it is immaterial to the story to be quite honest, although accuracy is always important to me, but sometimes you can be so keen to make something accurate that it will interrupt the flow), and the duck ride starts.

‘Quackquackquackquackquack!’ goes the ride, duck noises coming through small loudspeakers. ‘Quackquackquack!’

The Toddler waves as she goes past. ‘Quackquack!’

The ride is a simple concept. The roundabout goes round, with children on the ducks, and makes a quackquack noise. But it is enough. Even I am enchanted by the duck ride, so much so that I briefly stop looking at my watch to see when the next banjo music is due to begin.

After a minute or so, I notice something. I had assumed that the quackquack thing was an automatic function, set to start when the ride went round. Except that it is not. It is the lady who runs the ride’s job to stand by a microphone, going ‘quackquackquack’ at periodic intervals.

For some reason, this fills me with warmth and happiness. I have already identified Tennessee folk as being some of the loveliest, most friendly people who I have ever met. But the fact that this nice lady is still quacking with such enthusiasm and warmth on what must be the hundredth ride of the day is wonderful to behold. This is her job – to start the ride (by whatever means) and to go ‘quackquack’ into a microphone. I expect she probably has to do some safety checks as well, but it is the quacking that does it for me. She should get some citizens’ award.

The ride winds down. The Toddler is happy, and wants to go on again. I let her, as I am so impressed with the quacking lady. Then we go to see some more banjo music. It really is a perfect day.

22 thoughts on “The Toddler plays on a roundabout with large plastic ducks.

  1. Debster says:

    So did you have a go yourself?

  2. James says:


  3. rosie says:

    I wish that was my job. Quack quack quack.

  4. Pat says:

    It’s all going too well. It’s about to go pear-shaped – I can feel it.

  5. JonnyB says:

    NB I have restored the Tennessee strapline. I was concerned about branding synergies.

  6. I used to write haikus and send them out to people. Once I wrote one about a photo we had of bottles of beer in a freezer that had burst and frothed over the fish in there. I called it Freezer 1976. My father rang me up and said, “It was 1974, actually.” And yet he was the same man who would often say, “Never let the facts get in the way of a good story.”

    So I salute your decision to not let the obsessive need for accuracy interrupt the flow.

  7. tillylil says:

    If only all the world was ‘quackers’

  8. guyana gyal says:

    I was thinking, aww, what a happy tale then I saw Pat’s comment.

    Did the lady go quackers then?

    Did she sneeze mid-quack? Quaaaa-choooo then *something* happens.

  9. Megan says:

    And that, my children, is why we stay in school. Because otherwise some day your next meal will depend upon the enthusiasm with which you quack at the off-spring of a banjo enthusiast.

  10. Eunoia says:

    When the lady goes home at night to her husband Walliam / BF /or whatever,
    I wonder if she has a bill in her mouth ? 😉

  11. Sewmouse says:

    One hopes that while you were gawping at the quacking lady, the LTLP managed to get some photos of the toddler’s joy and happiness for your future reminiscing with her potential dates and LTLP’s.

  12. I’m not surprised the toddler was clinging to the duck ride so hard, if the alternative was yet more of Daddy’s intolerable banjo music. White knuckles all around, I dare say…

  13. maddie says:

    ‘There are wars and unemployment and the Daily Mail and stuff.’ That just about sums up adulthood. So sad. Bring on the ducks.

  14. JonnyB says:

    Yes… but what about the branding synergies??!?

    When I am rich, I will have a big house with a duck roundabout.

  15. spazmo says:

    Some of the best rides are the simplest ones. I still remember with great fondness riding in the giant swan-shaped paddleboats with my grandmother when we’d visit Centre Island.

  16. tillylil says:

    When you are an MP you can have your own duck house and moat!

  17. Rufus S Later says:

    JonnyB are you not rich???

    Here is my cunning plan: Give me a phone call and I will out you to the Daily mail. You can then phone the Grauniad and arrange a lucrative deal to pre-empt the Daily Mail!!!


  18. guyana gyal says:

    Why wait until you’re rich to have a roundabout…put dem dere chickens to work.

    Or have you eaten them all?

  19. Brennig says:

    Perfect day. Right up until the banjo music…

  20. Strop says:

    Oooh yes, a chicken roundabout. That would be grand.

    Does Norfolk have a symbol animal? Like Wales has sheep?

  21. JonnyB says:

    I guess it would be a turkey. I mean, Norfolk is big on pigs. But you get pigs everywhere. It would have to be a turkey.

  22. Z says:

    Of course, as I’m sure I’ve mentioned, we’ve got a real Chicken Roundabout only a mile or so from my house.

    Thank you for that story, Jonny. I sat here uttering “Aw” several times in a contentedly sentimental manner. I think that lady must feel she has the best job in the world, bringing simple happiness to so many little children and their tearfully joyful parents.

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