For those of you who don't know, I'm a superhero. I'm not bragging. It's a fact. I'm different from you.
When I was 17, I went on a picnic date with my neighbour Eloise. We went to our local park equipped with a tartan blanket, a tube of Pringles, a selection of pre-packed sandwiches and a million teenage dreams which, as the poet Sharkey once proclaimed, are hard to beat. After lunch, we ambled down to the lake to hire a rowing boat.
As the calm waters caressed the hull, I decided now would be the perfect moment to reveal my true feelings to Eloise, an enigmatic childhood infatuation who knew nothing of my utter devotion to her sacred heart. Sadly I never got the chance because I was bitten on the chin by a swan and fell into the lake.
At first, the only physical setback I suffered was a swollen jaw but it soon became apparent that the swan that had bitten me wasn't just any old swan. It was a radioactive swan. With each passing month, I inherited a swan-like attribute or 'superpower'. It started with a slight change in the skin tone of my nose (transforming as it did from pallid white to swan beak orange) and concluded with enormous white-feathered wings protruding from my rhomboid muscles.
For the first few years, I experienced an identity crisis; I was confused and troubled. I also became irrationally aggressive towards everyone (though that was mainly because I was a swan). However, thanks to a combination of sagacious guidance from an old relative and the realisation that my superpowers could defeat a villain in the city by the name of 'The Gannet', I realised that I had the opportunity to make the world a better place.
After I brought about a sharp decline in crime in the city, the government became actively supportive of my endeavours and rewarded me with an annual grant so I could build a giant home by the lake in the shape of a swan egg and commission a 'Swan Car' which was a cross between a Porsche and a pedalo. Apart from my dilemma over whether or not to reveal to Eloise my true identity, things were going well. Then the government decided to move the goalposts.
Capitalising on the idea that superheroes are a useful distraction in times of austerity, the government started a 'National Hero Service', recruiting armies of superheroes across the country to fight evil. At first my feathers were ruffled (literally) but I recognised that if we were all working towards a common goal - to save lives - there should be no room for ego or greed.
But now the government has interfered once more by introducing credit rating agencies to vet superheroes and assess whether they're 'financially viable'. If I'm not seen to be making a profit, these agencies will recommend my funding be cut and my swan-based adventures curtailed. All of a sudden I have been forced into unhealthy competition with my fellow superheroes by companies that are driven by profit, who don't understand the business of saving lives and have probably never even worn a cape.
I regret that some of my allies have already taken dubious steps to secure their funding. Only last week, my close friend Uranium Girl was called upon to rescue a man from a house fire and sold him a GPS app that locates ladders.
My advice to you is this. If you're indulging in unruly behaviour by a stream or lake or river in the near future and think to yourself "It's okay, Swan-Man will save me if I get into trouble", think again. I'm getting out of this game before it turns nasty. That's right. I'm retracting my wings for good.
You can save yourself.
By the way, can I interest you in a stunning detached riverside residence? Three bedrooms. Quirky modern design. Smells of swan shit.