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The Water Horse Revealed

Well, I'm ill. Cold plus gum abscess plus ulcer at the back of the throat - maybe I'm developing an allergy to Britain. It's a sad thing if travelling puts you off where you live - as it is, I feel myself falling into the mistake of treating ordinary life as the way of paying for 'real' life, elsewhere.  I miss Botswana. I miss the birdsong around here, what has happened? The mornings are too quiet.

I am still enchanted. While tickled by the thought of Mum's face when she sees photos of  bucket showers and tents, and when she hears about us all being tested for ebola before entering Zambia, I feel so sorry that Dad never got to see wild lions and elephants and dogs. He would have been as happy as the sun in the sky.On the other hand, in his early days he was a  shameless  racist, but maybe he changed in that way. He changed in many ways as he grew.

One thing he did well was tell stories of the Highlands and Islands, delighting me in particular with tales of the dreaded Each-Uisge, the Water Horse.  The most famous of these magical terrors lived in Loch Ness, (there was a smaller one, reputed to be of fierce temper, in Loch Morar). and was first recorded as being rebuked by St Columba back in the 6th /7th century. Ah, but the Each-Uisge was a fearful creature! It could shape change, sometimes into a bonny pony grazing by the lochside, tempting children to saddle up, only to be whisked away and drowned.  More insidious was its ability to change into a fine looking young man, who would ask a girl of the clans to comb his hair. If she agreed, and began to groom him as he sat with his head in her lap, she might notice that his locks were damp and perhaps had a little silt or mud catching on the teeth of her comb. Then her only chance was to get away as best she could, lest she face the same fate as the children, dragged down into the loch depths and eaten by the creature in its true horrible form.

In all these stories, I wondered why it was a water horse rather than say, a water hound or a water ghost or just a demonic thingummy. There were water-bulls too, but they weren't at all the same issue.

Well, Botswana provided me with an answer, and its own waterhorses.  The word Hippopotamus comes from the Greek, meaning River Horse and if one listens to them it's obvious why.

Hippos twang.They twang like big deep resonating string instruments with added creakiness. Then,  when they come up for air, they snort and harrumph exactly like huge horses might.

So here they are:


As we see, pics 1 and 2 show how they could be mistaken for huge horseyness,until obviously one observes the accompanying vast thick wodgy bods.




Pic 3 demonstrates how easily famous Nessie photos such as the MacNab, the Stuart and the Cockrell could just have been mahoosive hippos,( http://www.loch-ness.org/surfacepictures.html#gray ) and pic 4 shows that given the right light and a photographer with no sense of focus, hippos can have their nightmare moments.

So there we have it; the Loch Ness Monster is revealed as a colony of hippos eyeballing people weirdly, making strange horsey noises down the centuries and providing big lumpy backs for sightings. And yes, if a child saw one of these grazing by the water and tried to ride it, it is most likely that teeth and water would play an important part in said kiddy's future. Hippos are vegetarian but very territorial, and even crocs think twice.  As to a handsome man turning into one of these...well, this sounds like a Celt meets cellulite fantasy. I got nothing.

So apart from size, temperature, lack of flippers/long neck and preferences for shallow water,  plus the fact that hippos have all the bashfullness and discretion of a Mexican biker gang, the theory is pretty unarguable, and I remain confident in my mighty powers of sleuthing. That will be 15 of your finest English pounds please.

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