In Plymouth there was a large aquarium, it was the pride of the town and had a worldwide reputation. Despite the decline in the fishing industry the tourism from the aquarium had bolstered the economy and prevented the town from slipping into the local recession that had struck many places along the same stretch of coast.
There were long halls full of crabs and eels and creatures from the deep of every description. All these long halls converged to a large central tank that contained the centre piece of the entire aquarium. Living within this vast tank were some of the oldest and rarest creatures housed anywhere on earth. There was a dolphin with 3 dorsal fins, a large walrus with tusks in the shape of the last 2 popes, a thin frail porpoise that was said to be 250 years old, and a giant squid that was every colour of the rainbow.
It was just last year that a startling thought came to the mayor of the town. He had been on his annual tour to show his appreciation for the aquarium when it dawned on him that there was little or no security overseeing the towns aquatic asset.
During a hurried conference with the directors overseeing the facility he demanded that more stringent measures be put in place to safeguard this hub of the tourist industry.
The scheme was an all round winner as not only did it provide the much needed security, it also gave the directors a chance to get themselves in the papers yet again. The mayor turned the whole thing into a political publicity coup by ensuring that five local fisherman who had lost their jobs through the fishing decline all became the new security force at the aquarium.
And so it was that Bob, Jim, Geoff, Bernard, and Sid all regularly patrolled the empty halls of the aquarium to ensure that no intruders ever made their way in to steal, disturb or damage the livestock.
A few weeks into the scheme, the tourists began to complain of small bags and wrappers on the floor and left on the edges of the tanks each day. Fearing any bad publicity, the directors quickly hauled in all five security guards and asked them to be extra vigilant in ensuring no people left any litter behind. The guards said that they would do their best.
The problem persisted and so the directors secretly installed security cameras in order to track down the culprits. The first morning that the tapes were viewed quickly established that it was the guards themselves that were the secret litter bugs.
In a heated meeting, the directors banned all food being brought onto the premises by any staff and the guards had a weeks wages docked from their pay.
Sleeping through the hot summer days and going hungry through the long nights soon began to became a drag. One particularly long night all five guards met near the central tank – hungry, tired, and exhausted.
“I need food,” whimpered Bob.
“We could always eat the fish,” suggested Sidney.
“Don’t be stupid,” said Geoff.
“Lets all stay calm,” said Bernard.
“I’ve been thinking,” said Jim, thoughtfully.
“Haven’t we all,” responded Geoff, “there’s nothing else to do round here but think. I’m all thunk out.”
“No, Look,” continued Jim. “Here we all are famished, and there’s a snack machine just over there.”
“Oh, security guards vandalising the snack machine, that’ll go down a treat,” said Bob, sarcastically.
Jim sighed. “No one need ever know.”
“And what about the camera pointing straight at it?” asked Bernard.
“Aha, but there’s no camera pointing at the back of it!” announced Jim.
Sidney looked on in despair. “Do you not think that has something to do with the fact that you would have to walk across the water of the main tank in order to reach the back of it? You idiot!”
“And what would we do with the wrappers?” Said Bob nervously. “There’s talk of them searching us all soon, every morning!”
Jim smiled a long cunning smile. “As I said, I’ve been thinking. We can drop the wrappers into the tank itself, no one will ever see them.”
Geoff was only half convinced. “There’s still the matter of getting across the water without getting completely soaked.”
“I’ve thought of that, watch this…” Jim walked over to the tank and splashed the water while listening.
As the others all watched in amazement, the prize animals of the aquarium all swam to the surface and made their way over to the crowd of men. Without even blinking, Jim removed his shoes and socks, rolled up his trousers, and then climbed aboard the walrus with the papal tusks. A difficult journey across the tank then ensued, followed by the even more difficult task of unscrewing the back of a snacks machine whilst astride a large walrus.
The pair were soon back safely across and the walrus was rewarded with a Crunchie, which it seem to enjoy. The men all enjoyed a feast of snacks and fizzy drinks and slipped the rubbish into the tank to sink out of view.
The next night, Bob said he would perform the ride as it looked like fun. He rippled his hand in the water and all the animals swam over with a look of pining on their faces. Bob chose the triple-finned dolphin and made his way to the machine. He selected a range of snacks for his colleagues and the dolphin chose a Twix.
The next night was more of the same with Sidney opting to perform the ride and the multi-coloured giant squid choosing a Snickers ice cream.
The following night, Bernard decided to give it a go and took the orders off all his colleagues. He was about to sit on the small frail porpoise when Geoff grabbed him back.
“Don’t sit on that ancient thing” snapped Geoff.
“What?” asked Bernard.
“He’s right” said Jim. “That creature is over 250 years old and very weak, if we were to kill it by riding it, that would ruin the little scheme we have going here. I say we never use this creature, the others are all strong enough anyway.”
So Bernard rode across on the walrus and everyone was happy.
Several months later, after a set of extraordinary circumstances, David Attenborough was sitting in the offices of the aquarium directors. The directors apologised for disturbing his busy schedule and explained that they had discovered something amazing and he was the only man on earth that might be able to explain the event.
They explained at how concerned they had become that the level of outgoing snacks had risen sharply and yet the financial takings from the machines had dropped significantly. They had also noticed that the animals in the central tank had become increasingly tired and their appetites had dropped.
They had not connected the two at all at first. However, when they reviewed the footage of the security cameras, they found that nothing out of the ordinary seemed to be happening to any of the machines. Then one of the directors suddenly noticed that during the night something funny seemed to happen near the machine by the central tank. Although nothing seemed to happen to the machine itself, there were signs of large ripples in the water nearby just in view at the corner of the screen. A quick check of that stock record showed that this was the machine that had lost the most stock out of them all.
“And this is why we have called you in Mr. Attenborough, the only explanation we have is that the animals in the central tank are actually stealing snacks from the rear of the snacks machine. We even found that they have hidden the rubbish in the bottom of their tank.”
David Attenborough agreed that it was all very exciting and that he would love to help out in any way he could. The directors said they were planning to open up 24 hours so that people could visit at night and watch the amazing creatures perform their daring raids.
Mr. Attenborough wasn’t so sure. Too much human attention straight away could frighten the animals and make them stop their nightly snack swims. He suggested that the best idea would be to set up a hidden BBC film crew to film the animals at work. It could be broadcast live across the world and so give the directors the publicity they sought. if the animals slowly got comfortable with a human presence then night opening could follow later.
The directors thought this was brilliant. They also decided not to tell the security guards as the idiots would probably get a bit camera hungry and try and hog the limelight. It was thought best to just to leave the guards to wander round as normal, oblivious to the global spotlight suddenly focused on the central tank.
And so it was that on the fateful night that over a billion people worldwide tuned in to stare at the grainy night vision camera shots as the world waited to witness the moment the animals would display their dazzling intelligence tricks in order to find food.
The directors all sat round a TV with the champagne nearby, all ready to toast the 8th wonder of the world right here in their aquarium in Plymouth.
Words like shock, disgust, and outrage don’t nearly go far enough in describing what the directors felt when they witnessed the hulking fat form of Bernard slump himself onto the rarest dolphin in existence and proceed to waggle the creature across the water before performing a blatant act of vandalism mixed with insider company theft.
David Attenborough was deeply disappointed and annoyed at someone of his age and standing being made to hide in the cold darkness for nothing. The world watching at home found the whole thing to be very funny, but the amusement would only last for one night and it certainly wasn’t going to pull the crowds in.
The very next morning, all five guards were summoned to hear of their instant dismissal and to explain/plead why the company shouldn’t have them all locked up on criminal charges.
The guards selected Jim as their spokesman, as he was the most clever, and besides which, he’d got them all into this mess in the first place. The directors took several minutes to calm themselves down before one of them spoke.
“How? just How? how… How could you?” he finally exploded.
“We’re all very sorry. Really, we are.” Jim hesitantly replied.
“Sorry? you humiliate this company in front of the entire world and you say you’re sorry!”
“Yes. We cannot say how sorry we are.”
“We hired you to keep the place nice and you just littered it!”
“We’re sorry about that.”
“So we take away your messy snacks and you go behind our backs…”
“We’re sorry about that as well.”
“…And, without a care, you steal from this company…”
“And we’re very sorry about that.”
“And you selfishly drop your grubby litter into the main tank of the aquarium…”
“Ah, yes, we’re sorry about that, too.”
“…And you intentionally put the animals at risk. Yes! You deliberately gambled the well being of all five of our rarest specimens, all for your own greed. We could have lost all five of our prize collection through your own very stupid and very deliberate actions!”
“Actually sir, that isn’t quite true…”