Swans evolv­ing to more so­phis­ti­cated crimes

Harefield Gazette - - OPINION -

ITHOUGHT I was hal­lu­ci­nat­ing the other day when I saw a very an­noyed-look­ing swan bash­ing the han­dle of an empty car in a res­i­den­tial river­side road in Uxbridge. He was twist­ing his beak as if try­ing to open the car door and I couldn’t help won­der­ing if the species is evolv­ing to more so­phis­ti­cated crimes – from arm break­ing (GBH) to car-jack­ing?

From the River Frays to the Panama Canal is also a gi­ant leap, but I re­turned from my walk and swan ex­pe­ri­ence to read that the great pas­sage­way was cel­e­brat­ing its 100th an­niver­sary on Thurs­day, Au­gust 14.

Mr F and I were fas­ci­nated when we made our first trip through the Panama Canal two years ago, par­tic­u­larly go­ing through the six locks with only a foot to spare on ei­ther side of our gi­ant ship. A wider lane is be­ing con­structed, to be opened in 2015, so pas­sen­gers will then no longer have to breathe in as their liner squeezes through the nar­row gap.

Peo­ple waved to us from the banks, we saw frigate birds and pel­i­cans and we passed through wider ex­panses of wa­ter with lit­tle is­lands which were once moun­tain tops. It took nine hours to pass from the At­lantic to the Pacific Ocean – one of 14,000 ves­sels mak­ing the trip each year.

We were lucky on that Jan­uary day in 2012 as the tem­per­a­ture was 27°c, sunny and dry.

But, as usual, the weather fore­cast be­fore our an­nual visit to the open air Shake­speare fes­ti­val at Pend­ley Manor this month was re­ally bad.

This time it was the re­mains of Hur­ri­cane Bertha which threat­ened our en­joy­ment, but for­tu­nately it stayed dry through­out The Com­edy of Er­rors.

How­ever, the wind was alarm­ing and shook the stand in which we were sit­ting. The lights swayed and creaked and as we tucked our­selves into in­ad­e­quate tar­tan rugs (no of­fence to the Scots – hope that doesn’t in­flu­ence any votes for in­de­pen­dence) I wished I’d trawled eBay for body ar­mour in­stead.

Rather un­wisely I’d watched a pro­gramme about storms the pre­vi­ous night which showed a sim­i­lar stand in Amer­ica col­laps­ing as a hur­ri­cane struck, killing many mem­bers of the au­di­ence.

It may have been a com­edy we were watch­ing but my adrenalin me­ter was switch­ing between fight and flight through­out. For­tu­nately no swans were in­volved.

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