We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]


Alert readers may have noticed that the default category, here at New Samizdata (it wasn’t like this at Old Samizdata) for all postings (i.e. if we forget to put in proper categories), is: Hippos. This is because our Dear Leader has a fondness for hippos. This means that I am constantly on the look-out for hippos in the shops of London.

It also means that I have been wanting to do a posting here that really is about hippos, ever since New Samizdata got into its stride. I didn’t just want to find some hippos. I wanted then to write here about them.

Easier said than done, because you might be surprised at how hard hippos are to come by in London. I would have thought that hippos would be as popular as dinosaurs, pigs, cows, horses, dogs, cats (small and big), and maybe even as popular as teddy bears. But no. Hippos seem not to figure in the manufacturing plans of most toy, model or miniature animal makers.

So, it was a happy moment when, while wandering about in South East London last month, I chanced upon a sort of ornaments/antiques/junk shop which was, in among much else, selling these:


How much is this hippo?, I asked, waving one at the lady at the desk. Fifty P, she replied. Then, perhaps mistaking my stunned amazement at how cheap the hippo was for a desire to haggle, she added: You can have three for a quid. Done, I said. Three. I should have bought all the hippos they had. Later, surprise surprise, I found the words “MADE IN CHINA” printed on the stick-on label next to those little hippo feat. The label also said: “FUNTIME GIFTS LTD.”, but I could find no mention of any hippos here.

They are very poorly done hippos, I have to admit. They are made of foam rubber, with a smooth skin that is then painted, with unfortunate results for the paint if you squeeze the hippo there. Already, one of them in particular has many small cracks in its paintwork. But no matter. Score.

Have you noticed how, with gift giving these days, the cheaper it is, the better? Any fool can get his friend a great hippo, if he is willing for his bank account to take a comparably great hit. But the gift you really want is one that is just what you want, but which the giver found, rather than merely threw money at. It’s the thought and the effort that counts, more than ever, as getting your hands on mere stuff gets easier and easier, what with it all being made in China now for next to nothing, and then brought to you by supertanker, ditto. But maybe that’s just me. Comments on that?

Yes, they are still in their cellophane wrappings. It is for Original Perry to unwrap them, not me.

LATER (with the cellophane gone):


The four of them seem very happy, wouldn’t you say?

22 comments to Hippos

  • Let me guess what Perry’s favourite song is; The Hippopotamus Song by Flanders & Swann?

  • llamas

    When next in Detroit, Perry should be sure and stop at Hippo Dog


    for the ultimate hot dog experience. Double Great Scot, hold the sport.



  • Midwesterner

    I bet Perry has an amazing memory. After all, his entire house is a hippo campus.

  • Runcie Balspune

    Not the bag, then?

  • Dave Walker

    Hmm. I can think of a few interesting facts I’ve heard about hippopotami; I wonder which are Perry’s favourites?

    They like to keep cool in the heat of the day by staying in rivers; the water also does a good job of supporting their considerable weight
    They are vegetarian, and leave their rivers at night to graze on varied foliage on the banks
    They are easily startled
    When startled, they can become extremely aggressive
    On land, they are surprisingly fast on their feet
    Their jaws are capable of biting a man in half – and if they do, having been startled by one, they then proceed to not eat him (vegetarian, remember?)
    Among attacks by large animals in Africa, hippos account for by far the most human deaths every year
    Their hides are very heavy (an adult’s can be half a ton, on its own)
    Their hides are very thick; “standard” rifle rounds won’t pierce a hippo hide (received wisdom is that even if you’re a decent shot and can keep your wits in the face of a charging hippo, a .40 magnum is pretty much a minimum)

  • Damn, I have been outed as a hippophile 😀

  • PersonFromPorlock

    Not too dear and probably pretty good quality. I have an Egyptian footed bowl from them that still brings a smile to my face.

  • Regional

    Anyone remember this game?

  • Jaded Voluntaryist

    Hippos are my kind of creature. They look like some sort of oversized water-pig, and yet they are regarded by many people who are in the know as the most dangerous animal on a continent full of dangerous animals.

    That’s what I am striving for. Blubbery and seemingly inoffensive. Fond of baths. And yet, when threatened ……. 😉

    You can learn a lot from Hippos.

  • Brian

    No less a personage than George Washington had hippo in his mouth:


    So y’all are in good company. 😉

    – Brian

  • You are wise in the ways of the force, JV 😀

  • RAB

    Hippo- from the Greek… River Horse.

  • Brian Micklethwait (London)

    I added that second photo just for (another) laugh, but the more I look at it the more I think it serves as a perfect visual description of how Samizdata works.

  • You should have waited and given him a hippo for Christmas; I’m not sure if I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas has made it across the pond.

  • Mark Byron, actually I *played* that song played on our Christmas playlist last year 😀

  • llamas

    PdH – I was at HippoDog yesterday. I picked you up a T-shirt. You know who I am. E-mail me a suitable street address and I’ll mail it to you.



  • Snorri Godhi

    It would be good to take a short break as a hippo, say twice a year: lounge in the water all day, out in the wilderness; then get out for an all you can eat vegetarian buffet.
    The water tends to get a bit dirty but it’s not too bad if you can get a spot upstream from other hippos.

    Actually hippos are not strictly vegetarian: i seem to remember a clip on YouTube of a hippo chasing away a pride of lions from their prey, to get a bite.
    Also, looking at their teeth, i doubt that they can bite a man in half, though clearly a bite can easily kill: even the lions knew that!

  • I hope these three are virgins, otherwise I fail to see how they may appease the god of SI.

  • PdH – I was at HippoDog yesterday. I picked you up a T-shirt. You know who I am. E-mail me a suitable street address and I’ll mail it to you. llater, llamas


    But I tried to email you and it bounced, so perhaps my e-mail for you it out of date?

  • Nick (nice-guy) Gray

    Hippophile? Surely not? Phil-adelphia means Love-brother, and Philo-sophy means love-wisdom, and Philip (phil-hippos) means love-horse, so the right word would be Philippopotamiast.

  • Nick (nice-guy) Gray

    Alisa- these are so small- they must be young, therefore they are likely to be virgins. As soon as Perry puts them in water, they will swell up to their full size (water can be fattening!)

  • So has anyone gotten him a St. Augustine* medallion yet?

    *Augustine of Hippo, needless to say