Lock up your little ’uns! According to a variety of local and national papers, London has been invaded by poisonous, vicious pet- and baby-killing snakes from Europe. Except we haven’t. Sure, a bunch of eight-foot slitherers have come across the channel and taken up residence around Regent’s Canal, but they’re harmless. Karen Harper of the London Invasive Species Initiative has assured us that the worst these snakes will do is eat the odd rat. But lest we miss an opportunity to get needlessly terrified, we’ve compiled a list of five scary things about the canal that aren’t snakes.
Narrow footpaths are no place for both human and cyclist to co-exist, but on the canal’s towpaths they must. In the battle between two-wheeled machine and strolling pedestrian, everyone’s a casualty. Except, possibly, lovers of slapstick.
Can a snake break a child’s arm? Alright, a python probably can, but we don’t have a python problem in London. Swans on the other hand have been known to snap bones with a single flick of their long, beautiful necks. Lethal.
Last year’s canal carnival (the cleverly named Canalival) was called off at the last minute because of safety fears, but that didn’t stop hundreds of people showing up with inflatable dinghies and enough cider to turn the water amber.
4. Kayakers and rowers
Anyone in an oar-powered vessel might crash into a narrowboat and scuff its paintwork. If they were going really fast it’s possible they might even skewer a swan with the end of their boat. Although that might actually make the canals less dangerous. Hmm.
5. Shopping trolleys
Okay, they aren’t dangerous, but they’re a big problem. It’s a wonder skinflints aren’t diving into canals for the pound coins in discarded trolleys, thus causing cases of tetanus to soar. The resulting lawsuits would bankrupt London Waterways, turning our canals into watery ghettos for gangs of rogue mallards. Sound far-fetched? So do renegade snakes gobbling London’s children.