|This article is part of UnNews||Straight talk, from straight faces|
18 March 2009
WOOLWICH, London - Environment Agency officers rushed to a small, muddy bank of the River Thames yesterday as reports came in that a large walking fish had been observed to leave the water, stroll across the mud for a while and then jump back into the river where it swam away from sight. A number of eyewitnesses, all of them elderly, were sitting on a bench near the bank and saw the mysterious fish.
"I'm 74, I am," Jakob "Stinky Jake the Tramp" Cohen told UnNews reporters. "But my eyes is sharp as the day is long, they is. I saw that fish walk up out of the water bold as you like. It walked around for a bit then it jumped back in there and swum orf, 'onest it did." Others have confirmed his version of events. "Yeah, I saw it too," says Ethel Grimebotham, 82, "what auld Jakey 'ere says is true an' all. He might seem like 'e ain't the full ticket but 'is eyes are like an 'awk's, they are. I saw the fish too, and I ain't never seen nuffing like it afore in me 'ole life."
However, Lucy Lasticke, spokesperson for the Environment Agency is not convinced. "Of course we take sightings of this type seriously," she claimed. "We have too, because we can never be sure what it is that a member of the public has observed. If we'd been able to attend early sightings of non-native creatures such as the coypu or the mink, we'd have avoided the widespread damage caused to our natural ecosystems by those species. The fact that this creature was described by Mr. Cohen as a walking fish suggests that - if he genuinely did see such an animal - it may have been some type of catfish, which have been known to cause largescale damage in various rivers into which they've been accidentally released."
Back at Stinky Jake and Ethel's bench, their acquaintance Rotherhithe Ronny takes up the story. "I bin livin' round 'ere even longer'n what these two 'ave," he says, and Jake and Ethel nod in agreement. "Back when I were a nipper I used to work on the barges, see, over ninety year ago, what used to carry coal'n that up the river to the City. I seen fings in that there water what'd make yer 'air stand on end, so I 'ave, but I ain't never seen no fish like that one. It were Stinky Jake 'ere what saw it first, but I saw it close-up 'cos I reckoned the poor fing looked bit firsty like so I went down to where it was to offer it a drop of me wine. It didn't want none though, just sat there lookin' at me."
When asked if our reporter was correct in feeling he detected a certain note of disbelief in Ms. Lasticke's voice as she recounts her side of the tale, he was informed that he was quite right. "This fish is not the first call we've had from Jake and his cronies," she explains. "We get at least three or four every week from either him or one of the others - there's about twelve of them who hang about that bench all day. They go to pick up their pension money, then it's straight to the off-licence for a bottle or two and then they'll be there till the sun goes down. They see all manner of things - the most memorable so far this month have been a rat the size of a camel with humps to match, a swarm of enormous bluebottles - oddly enough, on the same day that the police carried out one of their periodic attempts to discourage them from congregating there, something that looked sort of like a cross between a giant snake and a shrew with antlers on its head and at least six or seven pink elephants."
"'Ere," said Stinky Jake when informed of Ms. Lasticke's disbelief, "never mind all that. You ain't got no small change 'ave yer? I ain't eaten nuffink fer two days. I'll give yer my address in Ireland and I'll pay it back, honest I will guv'nor." The UnNews reporter saved time by simply buying him a 12 can pack of Special Brew from the nearest shop.