Hereâ€™s where people come to throw away food. Residents fling it from the balconies of the flats overlooking Millfilelds â€“ pasta, rice, fried onions, noodles, chicken bones – they come out and scrape it onto the grass, they sneak out at night and stuff their rubbish overflow into the park bins.
By morning the foxes have left torn black bags and containers scattered wide. The scraps they miss are devoured by the rats, who pour from the canal edge under darkness.
Anything left over the dogs eat on their daily walk, their owners exasperated, shouting â€śLeave it, LEAVE IT!â€ť
Thatâ€™s me by the way. Thatâ€™s me shouting. I get so enraged by Hendrix cramming someoneâ€™s decomposing Chicken Kiev into his face that I no longer let him off the lead until weâ€™re well into the Marshes. Thereâ€™s one woman, notorious, noxious, insane. She regularly collects bags of stale loaves from the bakery in Leyton and leaves them in the park. Nobody knows why. I once came across a mysterious cairn comprised of 50 pitta breads, no doubt left by her.
Hendrix had eaten four or five by the time I got to him and pulled him away. Entropy junction is no place for a loose dog.
On this bend of the canal people come to the waterâ€™s edge and feed the birds. Sometimes itâ€™s children throwing a bit of bread to lure a duck closer. Other times, forlorn single men in their forties tipping half a bag of Sunblest crumbs into the canal without there being a single duck around. Iâ€™ve seen osteoarthritic pensioners in anoraks bung entire fresh loaves of sliced bread into the water.
Here in the fault-line, the ecosystem has broken down. Wild birds fight to swallow refined white flour, bleached with chemical agents. Salt, vinegar, oil, emulsifier, e-numbers and treatment agents slide down their delicate necks. Uneaten fragments of bread bob across the water, breeding parasites and duck-fatal molds. Beneath the surface flows a rip-tide of bird excrement.
Angry swans fight over the artificially abundant food source. Thanks to the year-round supply of Sunblest, Kingsmill and Hovis some geese and ducks donâ€™t even bother to migrate. Theyâ€™re pathetic. These fat, lazy bread junkies, bobbing though evolutionâ€™s cul-de-sac. Their eyes are milky with humiliation.
Hundreds of thousands of years of finely tuned natural behaviour come to a grinding halt where the park meets the marshes, where the seagulls and swans slug it out over a crust of disease-ridden bread on a slab of concrete.
Itâ€™s best to pass from here into Marshworld quickly. Try not to think too much. Always put your dog on the lead.
And donâ€™t feed the fucking birds.