As part of the preparations for the Olympic Games, a test closure of the Thames Flood Barrier was scheduled over the weekend to check on the response times in case of a terrorist incident. However, the trial run was abandoned when a turd of extreme proportions became wedged in the mechanism.
Andrew Woods, Chief Engineer in charge of the Barrier said, "The Thames Flood Barrier is designed to shut in times of emergency to protect London. It is capable of overcoming most detritus that may get in the way during closure, such as plastic bags, driftwood and canoeists. Two minutes into this trial run however, gate no3 flashed up a fault on the control panel. Rather than pushing ahead, I stopped the gates and went to investigate. An immense turd had become jammed in the workings and, had we continued, that baby would have stripped the gears clear out of the housing. I've seen some floaters in my time, but this one could have torpedoed HMS Belfast."
The turd had first been spotted some 30 minutes earlier near Crossness Sewage Treatment Works and had been reported to the RSPCA as a possible baby seal sighting. However, no-one had been able to distinguish its type due to the unusual markings, which turned out to simply be undigested sweetcorn. At some 7 inches long and around 2 inches in diameter, the turd continued its journey upstream before lodging itself in the mechanism of the barrier.
The turd was eventually traced back to Dave Newman, a builder from Gravesend. He said, "I'd been to a real ale festival the previous weekend and the beer had left me a bit bunged up. I'd been eating Prune and Rhubarb Crumble for a couple of days to get things going and it worked a treat. I had to make an emergency stop outside the Erith Riverside toilets and pop in when the brown dog finally started barking at the back door. I must admit, I've laid some cable in my time, but I was mighty proud of this one, though it did make my eyes water a bit. However, I quickly realised it wouldn't go round the U-Bend so I fished it out with a claw hammer and dropped it into the river. Next time I have one up the barrel, I'll call ahead to let the staff at the Barrier know it's coming."