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Saturday, January 21, 2006 

Requiescat in Pace

I'm horribly distraught. The Thames whale, or Beachy as I call him, has died. I went in search of him today. I walked for about an hour and a half from Waterloo Station, south of the river (much trickier than on the north side of the Thames, no silver jubilee path here, had to walk all the way round the Battersea Power Station and then through Battersea Park) and finally found him east of Battersea Bridge.

There were obviously two stories at play here. The first I noticed were the massive crowds and huge media coverage. Thousands of people had turned out to check up on this whale:

I actually ran into someone I knew, basically confirming my thought that practically everyone in London had turned out.

But of course we'd all come to see Beachy. It was obviously stuck on land when I showed up. I managed to jockey for a good spot:

I was pretty impressed with Beachy's spirit. He appeared to be perfectly aware of what was going on, and of not liking it one bit. They eventually wiggled a harness under him, which inflated to try and support him.

So I'm extremely sad that he has died. What a trooper. But I guess it wasn't meant to be.

While seeing a whale in the wild for the first time was really exciting, my encounter with a Jamaican man was equally amusing. We happened to find ourselves next to each other in the crowd and exchanged some minor formalities about Beachy. After a few minutes of watching them struggle with the whale he leaned over and said, "Now I hate America, but if this were in America they'd of gotten him out by now."

Shall I repeat that?

Jamaican Man: Now I hate America, but if this were in America they'd of gotten him out by now.
Me: Uh.... Yes maybe. But this has never happened before here, so they probably don't have the right equipment and training so they're probably just trying to jimmy together what they can....
JM: *Silence*..... Oh shit, are you American?

He turned out to be pretty lovely, and actually just hates George Bush. A lot of foreigners do this to me; lump me in with him. I understand why they do it, but it still rattles me. We quickly turned to baseball, and he told me about playing WWII service men in Jamaica. He was a pitcher. Emotionally drained by an hour and a half in the cold with little progress for Beachy, I head back home, passed out and woke up to the news. Poor guy. I'll miss him and all his drama.

I had a similar experience a few years back with someone my fiance knew actually. He use to work in a GAME shop, where my fiance usually goes and he knew him quite well. He said something about hating Bush, or Americans or something and then I laughed and said.."umm I'm American" His jaw dropped, it was classic.

I hadn't heard the latest on the whale until I read your blog. How sad. :(

I'm glad there was such a turnout of support.

Sadly Bush has done that for you abroad - things were much different here with Clinton in charge.

Unfortunately the majority had their say - good luck with the next one.


Maybe in America they would have got him out okay (perhaps involving loud music, speed boats and the US Seals, and maybe a speech about freedom), but had it been Japan there would have been a feeding frenzy.

I like to think we offer a decent halfway option of glorious failure.

Hard luck chaps, but jolly good show.

Seeing a whale in the wild?? What wild??? You're in London, not off the coast of Alaska or something like that. I don't buy your point that they didn't have the right equipment to save him. It's human instinct to save when people are in distress (except if you live in West Virginia, but that's a different story). I belive they sabotaged the rescue on purpose so that pubs can add to their fish n' chips supply.


I wonder why he thought we would have managed to get a whale out of a river. I suppose, in light of all the other stereotypes that we've attached to ourselves, efficient whale-moving isn't such a bad thing to be known for. I agree with Huw that we would have tried to incorporate some sort of speech about freedom.

From this post and other post's you have written, I gather that if I visited England I would be frequently bombarded with Anti- Americanism and general stereotyping off all Americans? Because I had planned on visiting for a while but now i'm not so sure.

Nah, we quite like Americans really. We just wish you would take a bit more notice of the world - so come over and find out.

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