There is a pond beast in the Victoria Park pond. I know this because I have seen him, and spoken to him too. He looks a bit like the creature from the Black Lagoon, or the thing from The Shape of Water. I tried telling him this but he hadn’t seen the movies, mostly due to the fact that there are no cinemas or DVD players in the Victoria Park pond. The pond beast’s name is Glarr,
which I thought was a bit on the nose. I asked him, isn’t that a bit cheap, to name a pond beast Glarr? A bit of a hand-wave on the naming thing? And he just shrugged and said that it’s what his brood mother named him. I asked Glarr if his brood mother lived in the pond with him and he shook his head that she didn’t. It turns out that pond beasts are a migratory species, and he and his fellow broodlings all hatched in the Sydney Park pond, and upon reaching maturity, spread out across the various ponds and stormwater drains and estuaries of Sydney.
I asked if that wasn’t difficult, hiking across Sydney out of the water, all dripping and looking the way Glarr did? I mean surely someone would stop you and ask what your business was? And Glarr explained that living in a big city like Sydney most people are just tired and trying to get through the day so if there’s some dripping pond beast on the bus they just tend to ignore it, or if they do notice it they just assume it’s someone in a costume trying to get content for TikTok or somesuch, so they may as well ignore them.
I was pretty taken aback by the fact that pond beasts ride the bus. I also thought it was a bit of a stretch that Glarr knew what TikTok was, especially given he didn’t know about The Shape of Water, but that’s the digital age for you, I suppose. I asked Glarr what he did in the pond all day, and he explained it was a lot of wallowing – not in the wallowing-in-misery sense, but the wallowing like hippos, or pond beasts do – and a good deal of talking to the eels who he shares the pond with. I asked if the eels were particularly good conversationalists and he said they weren’t but some companies are better than none. Once, he said, someone dumped a whole load of Honi Soits in the lake which provided some entertainment. I was surprised as I didn’t think he’d be able to read, being a pond beast and all, but he explained that he didn’t read them, he used them to make some papier mache which was a good way to pass an afternoon.
“So Glarr,” I asked Glarr, “what do you eat?”. I was sort of worried he’d say he ate the eels in the pond, which I thought would be a fair explanation for why they weren’t such good conversation, but he told me that he just scraped the algae off the pond’s sandstone walls and ate that, letting the nutrients dissolve slowly in his mouth. I asked if that was enough to sustain him – after all, he was fairly large as far as pond beasts come, and I’m not sure how energy-packed algae is. But Glarr just shrugged, and said that between the algae and worms he pulled from the crevices of the pond, and bread that people threw in for the eels, he got by fine. I didn’t think it was very nice of him to steal the eels’ food, but in the interest of politeness I kept that to myself.
Around then I realised my bus was almost there and so I said goodbye to him. Every now and then I’ll see him as I walk through Victoria Park and I’ll wave to him, and he to me, but I haven’t spoken much to him since as I think he’s busy hatching his own brood and someday soon they will be old enough to leave his pond and writhe, dripping, through the streets of Sydney to their new homes.