MONDAY Get a brochure from my Hong Kong travel agent informing me that there are two bodies of water in the world which harbour mysterious aquatic monsters. One is the NiceLake in Britain and the other is the beautiful KanasLake, the brochure says.
TUESDAY Mention this to friends at lunch. The people most intrigued by this statement are people visiting this part of the world from Britain: its news to them. One hopes that not too many of them abandon their holiday and race home to check out the NiceLake in Britain.
WEDNESDAY Ah, but a moments pondering over my morning cappuccino solved the mystery. Clearly, the Xinjiang tourism authorities came across the phrase Loch Ness and corrected the spelling to LakeNice before fixing the word-order to NiceLake.
Given this woeful degree of accuracy, one has to wonder if Xinjiangs fabled lake monster of Kanas is actually a late mobster of Kansas or lay minister of Cannes or something. Decide to do further research.
THURSDAY Discover that it isnt a misprint. A long history of Mysterious Unexplained Happenings suggest that there really is something very weird indeed in this 25-kilometre-long body of water in the mountains of Xinjiang. (Cue cello solo from Jaws.)
For decades, there have been legends about people, cattle, sheep and horses straying near the shorelines and being gobbled up by something dangerous and horrible under the surface. (No, the Communist Party of China doesnt have underwater cadre recruitment offices.)
Old records say a fish 10 metres long was caught a century ago. A 1930 report says fishermen found a creature weighing 900 kilogrammes. A 1987 study by XinjiangUniversity reported that hundreds of car-sized fish were living in the water.
At the university I discover a publication by the Xinjiang Kanas International Travel Service which notes that lake-dwellers talk familiarly of Big Red Fish who like to eat fries and wild ducks.This is probably less eyebrow-raising than it sounds. Given the scarcity of American fast food in the Xinjiang mountains, one might be wise to assume that fries refers to winged insects.
THURSDAY Newspapers report that yet another giant squid has surfaced. This time, it was a 10-metre creature off the coast of the Falkland Islands. And a report from Malaysia says yet another fisherman has been stabbed to death by a local swordfish.
It appears that the true rulers of this water-dominated planet are starting to assert themselves.
The fish really are revolting. No, Im not just talking about seafood at the fast food restaurant near my office. Im talking about an uprising in the piscine world.
Fish really have decided to reclaim the planet, I hear from the most totally reliable news source in the world my readers, responding to my recent jottings about sea monsters.
In Malaysia, giant needlefish have been jumping into boats, wounding fishermen.
In Kota Kinabalu, a swordfish stabbed a 30-year-old mechanic to death.
In the United States, an 11-year-old boy trying to catch frogs was mauled by a fish which jumped from a pond in Minnesota.
In Germany, a dog paddling on the shore of a lake near Gueldendorf was swallowed whole by a fish.
In the UK, a man who caught a fish from the banks of the Thames was dragged into the water and drowned.
One report said a fish caught by a Canadian hunter was placed on the ground near the mans weapon. It flapped its tail against the trigger, causing the gun to blast the angler to death.
In short, its payback time for all those millions of fish fingers we consume all over the world.
So if you notice your office feng shui goldfish huddling in a corner of the tank, they are probably working out the precise moment at which they are going to spring out, tie you to your chair, and take over the company.
A reader points out that lake monsters may be springing up all over Asia, but curiously, there have been no sightings of Nessie, the Loch Ness monster, for more than a year. The time may have come to reposition that Scottish tourist trap and change the name. Ive got a suggestion. How about Nice Lake?