• Vol. 07
  • Chapter 05
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Water play

The lake is a feature, a self-consciously wild place on the edge of the city, a piece of boggy ground wedged between the terminus where the trams go to sleep at night, an IKEA warehouse and a golf course. I suppose it must have cost too much to drain the land and build something equally attractive and beneficial to humanity, so the council dug a lake instead, with an island and the obligatory ‘beach’ where kids can raise watery hell in the summer, and a boating marina where the sea scouts can play at being pirates.

If you can tear yourself away from these worthy attractions, there is a pretty walk around the lake, wooded and fringed with sedge and water birds on the lake side of the path. It’s peaceful enough, if you can zone out the traffic hum and the tense atmosphere of the IKEA car park full of fractious kids and parents discovering that they can’t fit the flat packs on the roof of the car after all.

I’d walked around the lake to put as much distance as possible between me and the paddling area, and was sitting with my back to a pine tree, watching the sunlight playing on the lake water, when I was joined by another walker. Not joined exactly. He hadn’t noticed me and he wasn’t walking. He was looking for somewhere secluded to play with his goose. It wasn’t a real goose. It had a yellow wig. I could hear him murmuring to it, crooning, like a turtle dove. Tenderly, he placed it in the water, where the sedge grew close to the bank. I left when he took off his shoes.