"What is a Hoax, Uncle Gordon?" piped up young Sindy.
"A fabrication. A falsehood. A darned nuisance and a disruption." I have to admit to being clear on this one. Slight anger sometimes makes long and infrequently used words - like fabrication and falsehood - come to mind more rapidly and with a conviction that can take even the normally mildest-tempered cock himself, by surprise.
"But the Electricity Board eventually tracked down the offending person - one Robin Goodfellow - all a bit of a mistake it seems."
"I see," said Sindy, looking puzzled. "Strange word though, Uncle Gordon. Hoax."
I could empathise with that. A jolly strange word.
"C'est magique," dibbled Harvest, the Rouen Duck. Harvest is extremely old and knowledgeable and has French roots. "It comes from 'Hocus Pocus' - les mots magiques. And Hocus Pocus was probably derived from Ochus Bochus - a magician and demon of Norse folklore."
"Where did the name 'Ochus Bochus' come from Harvest?"
Honestly, these chicks - so inquisitive. I could see Harvest slowly close one eye as she gathered her thoughts. She sleeps like this we have noticed - one eye open and the other closed. During this form of sleep, called “unihemispheric slow-wave sleep” (USWS), half of her brain (the one opposite the closed eye) gets a rest while the other half remains on duty, keeping us safe from predators. The eye opened and as with one so wise and learned, she very soon replied:
"Well Ochus Bochus himself quite possibly had a name which came from the corruption of Bacchus - the god of conjuration who turned water into sacred wine. One further speculation is that Hocus Pocus is derived from the Welsh term Hovea Pwca, a hoax perpetrated by a hob-goblin or will o' the wisp called a Pwca, Pooka, or having the personal name Puck. This creature was a shape-shifter whose name recurs throughout Europe as a name of the devil, inclusive of Ochus Bachus."
At last Sindy fell silent as she tried to take all this in.
"Thank you Auntie Harvest."
And as we all know only too well - Puck's euphemistic "disguised" name is non other than "Robin Goodfellow". Gordon xx