If you had a duck, as a pet, what would you call it?
No, it's important. I really need to know. I'm building a theory that you can tell a lot about a person by their answer to this one basic question.
After dinner, I ask James this significant question. He thinks about it for a moment.
"Alf." He answers.
"Alf?" I splutter, surprised.
"You're thinking like a brown mallard, right?"
"Er, yes," I state, after a blinking pause.
We are both silent for a moment. I can actually see Alf. He wanders into the room. I watch him waddle his way over to stand behind James. He lifts his wing and starts to preen the feathers underneath. James is staring at me, and I jerk myself back to reality. Alf disappears in a puff of feathers.
James wrinkles his nose in revulsion.
"No. Of course not." This is final.
"I would call him Alfie," I confide quietly, "When you weren't around."
I demonstrate, "Alfie! Alfie!"
James looks at me with vague disapproval.
"Although if it was brown, it would be a female," he says.
"A female called Alf?" My certainty is shaken. The Alf I saw just now was definitely male.
"No. That wouldn't work. Maybe Georgetta?" He frowns. "No, the other ducks will take the piss."
My friend Howard has a theory that you can tell a lot about a person from their answer to this fundamental question:
What's your favourite monkey?
I'm inclined to agree with him on this. Mine's an orangutan, although technically this is an ape.