Hippopotamus Expectations – Dead Deer

Hippopotamus Expectations

Working forwards tended to result in more satisfying outcomes but it was not always possible. Aim low, and the chances of disappointment will also be lower. This may, or may not be true, but what we do know is that Juan had only modest expectations.

From the outset this project was a half-arsed, half-formed, after-thought. Juan himself certainly would not even call it, or consider it, anything so grand as a ‘project”. It was just a thought, a semi-idea that came to him one Tuesday afternoon, but it was enough for him turn it over and spend an hour or so trying to see if it might work. He was unsurprised, and barely disappointed, to discover it would be doomed.

‘Surely you have to succeed, if you give everything you have.’ Penelope Fitzgerald, The Bookshop

An achingly sad line, and Juan is busy proving the exact opposite right here. Failure in one field, however, does not mean failure in all. Barely thinking about what he had started, and certainly with no follow-up initially, it was some time before he even noticed what was happening.

When he looked, he found it had grown. This encouraged him to give it an hour or two smoothing out some obvious problems. It continued to grow and grow outside of his control. Juan had given almost nothing and become a sensational success.

What lessons for life do Juan, his creation, and his story give us? Try everything you think of? Don’t give it your all? Throw enough pebbles and you’ll hit a duck, one day? Fortune favours the lazy?

His next project had gargantuan expectations, and naturally failed in all respects, apart from a mammoth return in schadenfreude.

Today I wrote from 22:09 to 22:21. I was prompted by an idea here. My other writings here. All my prompted writing here, my tweets here, and my book here.


If you enjoyed this short writing, a whole load more are available in paperback, soon to be in a Kindle edition too.

Feb 24th – Hippopotamus expectations


(Photo: author’s own)

February 24th – Hippopotamus expectations


The hippopotamus is considered to be very aggressive and has frequently been reported as charging and attacking boats.[90] Small boats can be capsized by hippos and passengers can be injured or killed by the animals or drown. In one case in Niger, a boat was capsized by a hippo and 13 people were killed.[91] As hippopotamuses will often engage in raiding nearby crops if the opportunity arises, humans may also come in conflict with them on these occasions, with potential for fatalities on both sides.[92]


List of most fatal animals

This is a list of the deadliest animals to humans worldwide, due to animal attack as cause of death.[9]

  1. Crocodiles kill an average of 1,000 humans per year from crocodile attack
  2. Hippopotamus kill an average of 500 humans per year from attacks
  3. Elephants kill an average of 500 humans per year from attacks

The hippopotamuses were having crisis talks. Something needed to be done.

For years they’d made 11th place in Wikipedia’s list of most fatal animals their own. They were comfortable in 11th: there was no way they’d be able to overtake the crocodiles above them – there were more crocodiles, for a start, and then there was that whole never smile at a crocodile thing…they even had their own little rhyme to reinforce their threat to humans. They’d considered trying a never say ‘hello’ to a hippo campaign, but it didn’t seem to take off, so that had been abandoned fairly soon after its inception. 1000 deaths was a lot, too: it was too big a gap to breach. No, the problem wasn’t the crocodiles above them: it was the elephants below.

They were going to be unbearable.

The Wikipedia page had been updated the previous week, and an emergency hippo council had been convened to discuss the problem of the elephants. It wasn’t a local issue: the elephants in Africa were, on the whole, pretty civilised: a few tramplings here and there, but nothing that the hippos couldn’t deal with. It was the ones in India that were the issue. Kids, as always, getting smashed on fermented fruit and rampaging through villages at will, dispatching humans left right and centre. No respect for the hippos at all, and now the African elephants were crowing about it, sending their stupid little birds to sing of their victories across the mud baths.

It was clear a plan was needed. The hippos needed to up their game if they were going to stay in 11th place. And they needed to stay in 11th place: it was a question of self-respect.

Suggestions were welcomed from all. There had been a couple pf emails from the slowly growing hippo population in South America, imported by Pablo Escobar, of all people, but as yet all they were doing was getting the locals to protect them, which wasn’t really much use. They could, obviously, count on the South American hippos for support, but they weren’t promising much in the way of killings. The same could be said for the Pygmy Hippo population of the west coast: they were good at knocking things over, if needed, but their record of zero kills wasn’t particularly encouraging. Their larger cousins emailed back, telling them to up their game.

Several suggestions were considered as possible. Taking up residence in public swimming pools was considered a viable option, notwithstanding the concerns about chlorinated water. An advance group was dispatched to scout major cities for the best locations, and to report back by the end of the week. Another suggestion, to disguise themselves as goats and infiltrate petting zoos was also considered worthy of action, and again hippos were dispatched to that end. Similarly, obtaining jobs as ground crew at as many sub-Saharan airports as possible was seen as a way to raise the odds of fatalities significantly.

In a revolutionary move, a small group of highly trained hippos was authorised to take action against the elephants, initially inside Africa itself, and then, more ambitiously, within India.

Hippopotamus expectations were high. The elephants had better watch out: 11th place was not negotiable.


Inspired by a prompt from here