Swanning into Town

Luke Hall

There are moments in life when death lunges out from a dark corner ready to end you, like a disgruntled gypsy whose horse you ran over with a car. In my latest adventure I, it seemed, had caught the gypsy’s curse.

It all started with a nice enough trawl through Potterne. I had to plan my journey with great pragmatism, so as to avoid going on a day filled with rain pumped hurricanes. But on Wednesday the birds had gone south, like the Aleppo intervention, and the trees were in solidarity. My Potterne expedition began, with a charming trail that lead through the rivers and lakes of the South, ending at the wooden cornucopia of treasures know as Moors Valley.

All was going well. I had the world to myself, give or take the occasional dog walker. The air was fresh, and I was more than able to use the abundance of light and space to snap a lighter photo. Along the trail, there was a nice tarmac pathway, dotted with wooden bridges. The gentle gin clear streams followed along the walkway, allowing me to play spectator to marine life living at the bottom.

I reached a big lake that spanned out over the Potterne landscape. I could see the resilient reeds running up the bank, and a white myriad of swans swimming up and down the lake. I made my way off the path and headed over to the deceptively inviting bank that was sheltered by a nearby tree. From a distance the bank looked like a mere dip into the water, but up close the drop was steeper than the X-Factor viewing figures. And one misstep later I’d haplessly slid into the brown boggy mush.


I turned to clamber my way up the bank, taking each step with caution. Then came a spine-chilling hiss from beside me, and I turned to see a piercing white swan. Behind it, under the tree, sat small baby swans in a nest. I immediately grasped the situation; I was the intruder here to steal the young, they the parent were primed ready to suck my eyes out of my face and chew me into paste. I looked into the swan’s eyes, and it looked into mine. I backed slowly up the bank, careful not to make any sudden movements. It decided to lunge. It hissed at me, like an angry bicycle pump. Its beak grazed my elbow and I scurried like a wounded rat up the bank. The second snap was inches away from my face, the black beady eyes hungry for a Luke-warm stir-fry for lunch. I scuttled away as it flapped its wings and tried to perform its beak lobotomy. A third attack and I was home free.

I have done some very dangerous things in my life. I’ve walked down pitch black country roads, drunk and with nowhere to hide from oncoming traffic; I’ve had ceilings nearly collapse on top of me; I’ve returned overdue library books, and this extra knot on my kindly list of death defying ventures gave way to a sobering thought. As I continued on the pathway with my now butterscotch underpants, I realised that one day my luck will run out.

Editor: Joel Emmons


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