But, how did the ducks get in there?!?

I wasn't alone, you understand. There were many other people who needed to get involved to make this happen. There's my friend whose car was so achingly in need of a rubber duck infestation. Our supplier without whom we just wouldn't have been able to pull it off. And of course, a secret army of pranksters with spare time, some moneys, and a penchant for mischief.

It all started in January of 2008. For reasons that seemed perfectly clear at the time, I had a genuine need to acquire some ducks. That was when I first discovered Just Ducks, who are without doubt, one of the nicest companies I have ever worked with. Having identified which ducks I needed for my other purposes, I was pricing them up. Unfortunately (for our friend with the car), the website shows prices for a lot of ducks. Quite a lot of ducks indeed. So many, in fact, that it got me to thinking of things you could do with thousands of ducks.

Around the same time I had pre-emptively acquired the spare keys for my friend's MX5. I had no goal in mind, and at the time it seemed like the right thing to do. I knew my risk of getting caught was about the same as the chance the friend in question had of parking properly. I was probably just going to play the usual joke of moving it around the car park. Something like that.

But then, the vision came.

The power of crazy coursed through me, and I had to fill that MX5 with ducks. You have to understand two things. One: I had to do something with that car. Two: I must do it with thousands of ducks. No other combination was acceptable. Over the months that followed, many people asked why I was filling a car with ducks. Those people have no sense of adventure. My only reason was “Because it's thousands of ducks!” I couldn't do it alone. So I asked for help. And the people who wanted to help found even more people to help. Even Wikipedia helped, oh, and I hope this site gives them the evidence they wanted!

It's against all laws of God and Man to fill a person's car with rubber ducks and not take a picture (Wikipedia)

Next, I made possibly the strangest phone call of my life. I guess that being the UK's biggest duck merchant you get used to people like me. We made arrangements for the supply of 3,600 ducks (for some reason, the manufacturer ships in boxes of 600), and duly tried to pay. Apparently, this triggered my bank's anti-fraud mechanisms on my credit card.

Normally, I'd be thankful that my bank prevent reckless duck purchasing willy-nilly. Instead, I had to make a second, stranger, phone call, this time to my bank. It's one thing to order 3,600 ducks. It's quite another in cold blood to prove your identity, and declare to a call centre operative that you have a solemn intent to buy thousands of rubber ducks.

We then played the waiting game, until D-Day on the 15th of March, 2008. In the interim, we made sure our plans would work. Our main problem: getting the owner to turn up on time. Many of our hare-brained schemes involved random strangers who've knocked a piece off his car or impersonating policemen. It didn't take long for us to twig that man's mighty need to eat roast dinners was our easiest approach.

Eventually, the day itself was upon us. Everything was ready:

Having got up well before noon we ventured out in the slightly nippy March air, and moseyed on down into position. That was when we discovered our first opportunity for blunder; the car had been parked directly outside the balcony of the owner. We made an executive decision to fill the car in situ, rapidly, and hope that we weren't spotted.

We poured the ducks in to the car by ripping open black bin liners that we had previously filled. While this was going on, we also attached the spy camera and picked what we thought was a sensible angle. As an aside into the perils of live action pranks, it seems that the owner decided to walk around the car and end up directly behind the spy camera, rather than in front of it. Ho hum.

In our haste to get the car full as quickly as possible, we managed to cover ourselves in the glory of another blunder by not considering how we were going to close the door. I suppose I ought to clarify that. It wasn't a lack of planning, or that we hadn't thought this one through, it's just that we hadn't had a dress rehearsal. Seems our plan to use a sheet of cardboard as a fence over which we could pour the ducks worked. The trouble was the bit where we thought we could slide the cardboard out slowly as we shut the door behind it. A few hundred spilled ducks and some quick thinking, quick reactions, and quick chopping of cardboard later, and we managed to get the door closed, locked, and the holding in thousands of ducks.

So. 3 months of planning, a faux roast dinner lure, and a car filled with ducks. What could possibly go wrong? Of course, the neighbours had been giving us a lot of attention up until this point. What they hadn't done was give us cause for concern. Right up until the neighbours in the flat next door came out the back of the property, and round the front to get into their car.


Was this the usual route to get out? Was it shorter? What would happen if the owner came out that way too? WHY GOD?! WHY? Why would they do that?! Fortunately, our supply master had even thought to bring along some walkie-talkies. We posted a man at the back entrance, a man at the front, and all went into hiding. For ages. I'm not talking five minutes here that felt like a long time because we were all in deep anticipation. I'm talking more than half an hour. It was so long that we were worried that the camera would need a new tape and batteries. We even rang him up and said the roast was ready early to try and hurry him out of the house.

Eventually, the moment was ours.

Softly, slowly, pondering across the road to his car, with a look of puzzlement detectable at 40 paces, came the owner. As a bonus, along came his housemate from whom we had also kept our hijinks secret. I think they thought it was about to explode or something — they were pretty cautious as they approached it.

Stop. Stare. Look around in wonder. Stare some more. Look around again. Spot camera man. Walk in general direction of camera. Discover remaining four buffoons hidden round corner, laughing incessantly. Ask in amazement how all the ducks got in there.

To my surprise, and slight dismay, he took the whole thing in good humour. We revelled in the telling him the details of the plan, visible signs of "WTF?" coming from him and his housemate. In the end, he was so mystified that he went and had a shower.

And so, as it begin to rain, we scooped all the ducks back up, disposed of the balloons, had a damn good laugh, packed the rest of the kit away, and went to the pub to celebrate. Much fun was had by all.

Copyright © 2008 the conspirators of The Great Duck Caper