Big Fish, Small Pond

Water jump, Greenwich Park Boating Lake
So, I’ve been doing a bit of research, and it turns out that not only is the eastern part of Greenwich Park now a designated cross-country track for horses, but the old boating lake – or pedalo pond, if we’re going to be honest, which I think at this stage in our relationship we should – now constitutes that absolute highlight of any horsey vaulting course: the water jump.

Now, leaving aside the question of whether internationally competitive horses really do enjoy jumping from a height of several feet onto solid concrete cunningly disguised by a gravel veneer and two inches of water, on the grounds that the people you’d have to ask to get an answer are probably the very same people who regularly assure us that there’s nothing a crippled fox enjoys more than being chased twenty miles across Leicestershire by some red-faced men in jodhpurs and a pack of over-excited attack dogs, what intrigued me most, the more I read through the promo bumf for all this glorious shenanigans, was that in the pond had been installed a fish and a turtle. Really? How exciting. For both us and them. Eventually, I turned up an interview with the lucky creatures in Greenwich Time, courtesy of ace reporter Jemima Pipps.

JP: So, you two – how did you come to be chosen for this great honour?
Fish: Well, it was all done by ballot.
Turtle: Ballot, yes. Hundreds of us applied.
Fish: Thousands, I think, Turtle.
Turtle: Yes, you’re probably right. Thousands.
JP: So… they just drew you out of a hat?
Fish: No, they threw ping pong balls into jam jars. And you were in a shoe box, weren’t you?
Turtle: That’s right. They thought I was a tortoise.
JP: Oh… are you… not?
Turtle: No.
JP: [awkwardly] And… it’s just the two of you?
Fish: Yes, that surprised us too. We assumed there’d be loads of us, but – no. Just me. And him.
Turtle: Her.
Fish: Really?
Turtle: Yes.
Fish: Gosh. Anyway, yes, it’s just the two of us. But it’s fine. Very peaceful. We just swim about, go wherever we want – we’ve got the whole pond to ourselves…
Turtle: It’s really very very peaceful.
Fish: Yes. Peaceful.
Turtle: I mean, obviously every so often a horse jumps on our head, but…
Fish: [laughing] … I’ve had that happen to me on a Saturday night at the Wetherspoons by Cutty Sark station!
JP: Really?
Fish: Well, it felt like it next morning…

I was going to say you could read the whole thing elsewhere, as I’m sure they have a well-maintained website funded out of the council tax, but… it turns out the whole thing isn’t true, as I’ve just been down to the boating pond for a shufty. And it turns out that the fish, the turtle – AND, I strongly suspect, Miss Jemima Pipps – aren’t real. As you can see from the photo above. Well, you can’t see the turtle, but… you really don’t need to.

I was so angry, I felt like writing a letter to LOCOG, the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games, but a family of squirrels that lived in that small house just behind the jump took pity on me and, over a cup of coffee and a Tunnock’s caramel wafer, explained that there was no point, as they were pretty sure LOCOG didn’t exist either. They’d been trying to get to them to fix their boiler for ages, they said, but all they’d had were lots of letters from someone called Sebastian Coe telling them how great he was and how Steve Ovett used to steal his towel when he was in the shower but where was Steve Ovett now, hey, hey? Which, said the squirrels, seemed a bit petty. And didn’t really help with the hot water.

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