Robert Duquette, aka Duck of The Daily Duck, died on Saturday.
There is no prescribed protocol for such situations in this strange world of pseudonyms and comment threads. But I knew Robert through blog posts, so I will remember him in a blog post.
In truth, Robert Duquette and Andrew Nixon knew each other only obliquely. Duck and Brit, however, knew each other very well, in their world. They bonded over interminable arguments about religion, evolution, morality and, occasionally, more light-hearted matters such as what constitutes a proper sport, and the degree to which each other’s musical tastes were ‘maudlin’.
The Daily Duck was the cornerstone of the ‘post-Judd Alliance’ and, for a few years in particular, when there were four of us posting regularly, it was an absolute riot – providing the ideal, uncensored outlet for a motley bunch of amateur intellectuals to engage in ferocious debate, ribbing, one-upmanship and all the other things that prolix but intellectually-frustrated men love to get up to in their spare time. The infamous limerick war was particularly memorable.
Inevitably, things eventually ran out of steam somewhat, some of my views began to diverge from his and I left the Daily Duck over the kind of trivial point of principle that seems important at the time.
I am sure that most of us have oscillated between two utterly opposed views of blogging. On a good day, it seems to be one of the best parts of life. At other times it seems absurd – to spend so many hours and to invest so much brainpower in argument with a pseudonym and an arrangement of pixels.
But humans are humans, and even in an anonymous argument about evolution, our humanity can’t help but finally peek through. That’s when pixel rivals begin turning into something resembling real friends. As well as combative, Duck was generous, warm and funny. We all argued a great deal about morality, but nobody could doubt that Robert was a profoundly moral person, who thought deeply and seriously about what it meant to be good.
When emailing, Robert and I used our real names to correspond. I don’t know why this is, the rules are obscure. He frequently talked about coming to England to visit; I promised to take him to a cricket match and explain the even more obscure rules of that game. In the end I never met Robert in the flesh, and now I never will.
But the archives are still there. Robert’s sister has told me that she finds comfort in being able to read his posts and comments now that he’s gone. There must be thousands and thousands of his words floating around in this little corner of the blogosphere. In a certain, small way, Duck is immortal.
Robert designed my little Brit picture. He still owes me a case of beer for a poem he asked me to write about the frustrations of DIY.
RIP Robert. We won’t forget you. In a way, some of us will always be ‘Duckians’.