16. Strange Invaders
Whilst residing at his terraced house in Kentish Town, during the 1980s, Christopher Fowler began to notice glimpses of unusual whitish creatures in his back garden. After finally finding the time to fully investigate, and to dismiss such possible hallucinations on his own behalf, Mr Fowler was astounded to discover several albino lobster-like critters, which plagued his yard for several months.
A friend of Mr Fowler’s, whilst visiting one evening, almost stood on one of the bizarre creatures whilst exiting the back door. They could not understand how such things had got there. Had they been dumped there by someone, maybe as restaurant rejects? Had seagulls plopped them down after snatching them from market stalls?
After much confusion, Mr Fowler’s friend decided to have a specimen investigated by the Natural History Museum, via the Crustacean Section, where they concluded that such beasts were in fact Turkish Crayfish (Astacus Leptodactylus Salinus), aggressive and rather large sea creatures that had also been observed in Camden’s canal system. According the further investigations, although the river was very much running underground, the waterway was in fact still linked to the drainage system between the roads and the canal. The crayfish has apparently used the system and emerged in Mr Fowler’s garden, as his drainage outlet was uncovered.
On February 15th, thousands of insects resembling cockroaches descended upon Woolwich, in south London, particularly in the vicinity of Globe Industrial Estate. The two-inch long forms with large antennae were swept to London via a freakish flood, but from where no-one knew. The creatures were deemed to be harmless.
In the May of this year, hundreds of terrapins emerged from many of Hampstead Heath’s pools, areas where bird-life is protected. It was believed that such creatures were dumped in the murky waters and have bred healthily over the past few decades. The leafy location, sporting some twenty-five pools, has become perfect habitat for these aggressive creatures, which have grown to the size of dinner-plates.
At Mill Hill in 2005, several ducklings were devoured, to the dismay of school children, by a fleet of swimming terrors. Strangely, during the 1970s, many dead ducks had turned up in several London parks. Had unseen terrapins been the cause of these mysterious deaths?
In 2005, at Tooting Bec Common, an alligator was blamed for terrorising local wildlife, and was eventually apprehended one morning by a member of the public. However, wildlife inspectors arriving at the scene were met instead by the cold corpse of a three-legged Bosc Monitor Lizard which had probably been dumped or escaped, but had died in the cold weather.
London may not be the most rural of places, but there is a variety of alien animals lurking in the suburbs, and many of these exotic creatures have been there longer than we realise, just waiting to emerge from the shadows.
By Neil Arnold