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Idioms explained: Proud as a peacock

Understand this expression within context and form a mental picture for future use and reference

Season 2, episode 7
14 min / Published

Preston Peacock is an entitled little creature with little or no regard for anyone else.

When his pride endangers his life, he has to reassess his behaviour and his choices.

Pride can lead to vanity and vanity to heartache or worse.

Make this expression your own by internalising this original story.

Show notes

Proud as a peacock

Some creatures were created a little more exceptional than most and admiring their beauty almost comes naturally. This was the case where Preston Peacock was concerned. He was constantly told how beautiful he was and how envious people were of his looks. Now, as is the case with most things we hear often, we start internalising them and it starts becoming our reality. Preston was a looker, everyone said so and as a result he started entertaining this thought.

The young peachick became believed that he was destined for bigger and better things. He preferred not to mix with any other children and kept to himself most of the time. He was even more fascinated by his beauty than was good or even normal for any peacock. He was constantly admiring his reflection in everything that could possibly serve as a mirror.

Obviously, Preston was not the only peacock in the yard. He wasn't even the only peacock in his family seeing as he was one of five brothers. They were all brightly coloured and gorgeous birds in their own right, but Preston was of the opinion that they lacked his level of splendour. He often remarked that either their feathers weren't as bright as his or that the patterns on their bodies were uneven or not aligned.

It wasn't long after his 3rd birthday that Preston started making outrageous claims. He didn't allow any of the other males to court females with their colourful display. He was a big and burly bird, so when he challenged the other males, they always backed down. The situation became unbearable and many males left the flock due to this unruly fowl's constant harassment. Preston's parents had also had enough of his insolence and albeit with a heavy heart, left the farm as well.

To spite what Preston thought about his status in the yard, he was rather low in the actual pecking order. The animal in charge of everything was Jock, a proud German Shepard who patrolled the farm and kept the order. He wasn't one for many words, but he was always alert and very few things escaped his attention. He saw what Preston was doing and he knew he had to take action.

He decided to speak to Preston and remind him of his place and his manners. Preston couldn't see that he was the problem and blamed everyone else for not affording him the respect and esteem he though he was entitled to. Jock tried to explain to Preston that he was being unreasonable, however it was like water off a duck's back. Preston wasn't going to listen and wasn't prepared to change either.

Frustrated and incensed Jock left the peacock's side and walked over to the barn to think about what he needed to do. He called all the animals together that night and asked for some input as to what had to be done about this disrespectful bird. None of the animals wanted Preston around and every last one of them wanted him to leave the farm. It was decided. Preston would be made to leave the farm the next day.

The next morning, at the crack of dawn Preston was already up and about. He was on top form insulting everyone he could find and bragging up a storm as usual. He the saw his reflection in a dark object on the yard. He mistakenly assumed it was another peacock trespassing on his turf. He ran over, wings flapping and eyes bulging. He didn't waste any time and started pecking at... his reflection. He managed to do so much damage to the surface of this object that his reflection was no longer visible to him. Then he walked off happy and content in the knowing that he drove off another challenger to this throne.

Unfortunately, as it turns out, the object he destroyed wasn't simply some old, discarded piece of shiny metal. Preston's vanity blinded him to such an extent that he didn't see or simply didn't care that he was dismantling the passenger door of the farmer's brand-new, black Mercedes Benz. When the farmer saw what was done to his prized possession, he was blew his top! He was furious and when he found out who or what was responsible for this atrocity, he ordered Preston to be slaughtered.

As much as Jock disliked Preston, he definitely did not think the pompous peacock deserved to die. He had to act and do so at the speed of light. He thought on his feet and immediately ran to where Preston was showing off and parading around without a care in the world. Preston wanted to protest, but when he heard the distress in Jock's voice and the fear in his eyes, he listened.

It was of the utmost importance that Preston become invisible and quickly. Where could Jock send this previously-vain, now entirely petrified peacock? It dawned on him that the farmer hardly ever visits the pond at the bottom of the estate. He ordered Preston to hide in the foliage on the edge of the water. He was not to make his appearance before Jock was certain the coast was clear.

While hiding in the reeds, fearing for his life, Preston suddenly became aware of an angel-like vision. There on the water, gliding effortlessly was the most magnificent creature he had ever seen (aside from himself of course). Preston was amazed at the sight of this divine being: lilly-white in colour, perfectly arched neck and not a single feather out of place. To say he was taken aback would be an understatement.

He called out to this beautiful bird and with the grace of, well a swan he floated over to where the skittish peacock was shivering. “Hi, I'm Steadman”, the swan said friendly. “Preston”, the bewildered bird said carefully. “Why are you hiding in the bushes?” Steadman asked? “I'm not hiding!” came the stern reply. “You could've fooled me” the swan said laughing out loud. Preston dropped his head in shame. He knew the swan could see he was petrified. Preston told Steadman the whole story and the swan listened intently, nodding in agreement as the peacock spoke.

When he was done, the swan smiled. Not at the expense of the peacock, but rather because he saw much of his young self in this very peacock! “So none of any of this was your fault, Preston?” Steadman asked curiously. “Not at all” came the reply from the still entitled young fowl. “I see”, said the majestic water bird. “Don't you miss having friends, or having fun with other peacocks?” “Do you enjoy being alone with only yourself as company?” “It can't be easy hearing everyone say that they don't like you?” Preston started to cry. He was feeling something he had never experienced, regret!

Steadman saw that the peacock felt ashamed at his behaviour and he wanted to help the young boy. He told him about his own life and how conceited and vain he was at one stage. He believed he was better than everyone else and that he needed nobody. Until he woke up one day and everyone was gone – he had no one.

Preston listened, really listened for the first time in his young life. “No man is an island” the wise swan said to the young peacock. “Be humble and show humility to everyone. Be grateful for what you have and show empathy for those who have not been blessed as you have. Take these lessons to heart and change your ways.”

Preston took to heart what Steadman said and when Jock came to fetch his after the dust settled, he was very impressed with the new Preston he found. The peacock was pleasant, modest and genuinely wanted to return to the farm to be with the other animals. It took some time for the animals to accept that Preston had changed, however, slowly but surely they all came around. Soon most of the peacocks who left also returned. Preston was happy to see them all, but was ecstatic to see his parents and brothers come home.

For the first time Preston understood that it was okay to be proud as a peacock, however he also realised that vanity kills, and he almost died because of it.


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Engaging & original stories supplying concrete understanding of idioms for Intermediate English learners
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