Just Like The Ducks Said

by Gurpreet Sihat

Everyone has that one movie they won’t hear anything bad about. That absolute deal breaker. Mine? The Mighty Ducks trilogy.

I LOVE the Ducks!

They’ve taught me some of the most valuable lessons in life: 

  • That it’s okay to be wrong and ask for help.
  • That second chances should always be given to those who deserve it.
  • That everyone has their strengths, and they’re not all the same.
  • That you don’t need to be the strongest, fittest, fastest or most intelligent to succeed.
  • That you shouldn’t be too careless, or too careful – you can’t be afraid to lose.
  • That you should always stay true to yourself.
  • That Queen is the soundtrack to life.
  • That ducks fly together!

Most importantly, the Ducks taught me that if you’re open to it, something can be learned from everyone and every experience. 

I’ve always found my equilibrium walking through London with a venti vanilla latte in hand and music in my ears, seeking shelter from the rain in one of our many galleries and museums. It’s become tradition, whenever I’m in the area, to slip into the V&A and visit Michelangelo’s David, or the British Museum and lose myself in the Egyptology department, and I’ve never been able to walk past the National Gallery without making my way up those steps to da Vinci’s Virgin of the Rocks, my favourite painting in the entire world. With everything closed due to COVID, I’ve had to find other ways to find that equilibrium. At first it was reading: The Medici, Godfathers of the Renaissance by Paul Strathern, Renaissance Masterpieces of Art by Julia Biggs, Michelangelo, Mind of the Master by Emily Peters, The Prince by Niccolò Machiavelli.

At the start of the year – with much encouragement from my parents, sisters, and pride – that evolved into something ‘more major’. I enrolled in an art history course. Three, in fact. I’ve added something like thirty art and history books to my collection, have watched more documentaries than I can count, and even am a proud new owner of a membership to London’s National Gallery where I’ve been taking part in as many online events as I can possibly fit into my schedule. 

With no intention of switching career paths – or, even, at the minute anyway, switching from writing YA fantasy to art related non-fiction – I did, at one point, start thinking I was wasting time and money. But ‘picking up the trash’ taught the Ducks defence… and learning about Lorenzo de’ Medici, Galeazzo Sforza and Pope Julius II, about the rivalry between Michelangelo, Raphael, and Sebastiano, about the life and art of Titian, Rubens and Artemisia Gentileschi, I realised I had a better handle on my characters, their attitudes and their backstories. 

Suddenly a character who would kill an ally without a second’s hesitation was charming enough to convince you to come to dinner at his house despite knowing his reputation like Cesare Borgia. A character who got into tavern brawls could escape the law like Caravaggio. A character who was known to brood but wanted to be liked and appreciated for who she is rather than her reputation, goes from condottieri to Queen of the Underworld like Francesco Sforza. A reckless and impulsive character who thinks he’s a womaniser starts to constantly fall in love, usually unrequited, like Giovanni de’ Medici. 

In a surprising turn of events, my writing has become better. All because I was open to learning something new… just like the Ducks said.

Quack, quack, quack!

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