a mermaid’s musings on the use of the river thames
image source: water secrets blog
the thames festival is approaching quickly and, with it, a weboceansite full of thames-related questionnaires. most of the questionnaires deal with what people enjoy about their river and what else they would like to be offered around it. as a part-time inhabitant of the river, the mermaid wonders if something is missing in those forms. as the developers of those webocean gatherings are looking for feed-back, the mermaid is happy to provide some from a river user’s perspective.
first of all, the problem with these kinds of surveys is that they only allow for a very limited choice of answers, so the data can only bring a very distorted picture. for instance, the question about getting the boat to work does not consider at all whether it would be practicable for that particular person to use the boat at all. a similar problem appears when one is asked whether the river is underused or overused. i’d say it totally depends on for what and in what way the thames is used: noisy boats, sailing boats, drinking water generation, waste dumping, sports, house boats all qualify as possible uses. however, i cannot express that the river might be overused for the ‘wrong things’ and underused for the ‘right things’. the mermaid thinks that a balance should be considered between what is good for the life in the river as well as on the river and around it. maybe we can attempt a sort of symbiosis?
also, none of the questionnaires ask you what kind of events/sports/restaurants etc you would like to see on the thames. certainly, the mermaid would appreciate homely, less expensive places with lots of interesting stuff to discover (water themed charity shops?) and less of a ‘clone riverside’ with shops and restaurants you find all over the city or the world. but judging by how humans put a price on certain types of land, this is probably fairly utopian.
the mermaid would also like to see more swimming facilities and regular events about the evolving state of the river and its floating, swimming, slithering, crawling wildlife and not-so-wild-life (plants, the sludgy stuff at the bottom). information and events around how to get involved in giving the latter a hand in its healthy proliferation (the emphasis is on healthy, after the mermaid one got caught in an uncomfortably large field of algae, albeit not in the thames) would also be appreciated. some of the river’s mermaids would probably volunteer some stories for this – and not only to children. in fact, the mermaid is puzzled that landfolk seem to think that education is just for the young ones. no wonder the planet is in such a bad shape! in fact, the mermaid knows many humans who would love to know more about this mysterious big body of water that runs for miles through their home. how cold is it? how polluted is it? who or what lives in or on it? does the thames tweet like one of its bridges that tells you when it goes up and down? etc. besides, most real mermaids would be far too scary for children, at least according to landfolk sensibilities.
ah, and also, river and water related art and music events would be appreciated as mermaids tend to like that kind of stuff. the mermaid has also found that they provide a good way of communicating river knowledge to adult landfolk.
back to the bottom now…