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Goldie - and Other Fish

By Ashleylister @ashleylister

Goldie - and Other Fish
 I’ll be honest with you; I’ve never had much interest in fish.  
Let me rephrase that (with apologies to pescatarians):  if the fish is before me on a plate with a crispy skin, a scattering of salt, a quarter of lemon and the promise of soft, fragrant flesh beneath the surface, then I’ll admit to feeling a frisson of excitement.  Other than that, fish, in my world, are neither here nor there.  Don’t get me wrong, if I actually think about fish I’m happy that they exist, and would never advocate cruelty to one, which, despite what the seasoned fisherman might say, includes catching one on the end of a hook.  I suppose there’s quite an element of hypocrisy there, and I know I would be shot down in flames by vegetarians, but in the interest of honesty, it has to be said: I find fish pretty boring.  
I’ve sat in waiting rooms with huge aquariums, and between bouts of anxiety about the appointment/interview ahead, I must admit I’ve admired the beauty and grace of some of the specimens. However, my over riding feeling is sorrow that these creatures are confined to a water filled glass box, however spacious it might be, and however well stocked with weeds and ornaments.  There are only so many circuits you can do and only so many dinky little bridges you can swim through before you want to get out, wrap yourself in a towel and get yourself a brew from the coffee machine.  Well, not quite, but you get the idea.
It was a different story with my first goldfish, whose name has sadly been confined to the depths of my diminishing sixty odd year old memory.  I loved that goldfish.  If I remember rightly, there were three, one each for my brothers and me.  I’m not sure we could tell which was which but that was no deterrent to our belief that we were the luckiest kids on earth.  Pets, apart from very small ones such as mice, fish or hamsters, or very slow ones such as tortoises, didn’t feature in our childhood.  My mom and dad had both had dogs as children but there were always tragic tales, and I don’t think either of them was prepared to go through years of  fights and loss, and the inevitable stress and sadness.  In these days of ipads and x-boxes and Macbooks and smartphones, it is probably incomprehensible to today’s youth that three tiny orange fish swimming round a glass bowl could hold such interest to 1950s children.  Granted, it was 1960 before we got a TV.
Everything changed when we went to stay with our cousins at the seaside.  We didn’t realize when we returned that it wasn’t Goldie who was happily swimming that tiny circuit in the bowl, occasionally bobbing to the surface for food, but a substitute, bought after a frantic dash round local pet shops by my dad who had been left behind to work, and was in charge of said pets.
Apparently, poor Goldie had floated to the surface one morning and was still there when my dad got home that evening.  By the time we were told the devastating news, years later, we found it hard to feel much sympathy for a fish, true ownership unknown, that had been unceremoniously dumped down the lav in 1959 and no doubt ended up at the end of the sewer as fish food himself.  Despite my lack of enthusiasm for fish (apart from a couple of months in 1958 when, mesmerised by their activities, I lavished love and attention on Goldie and his compatriots), I realised something rather odd yesterday, as I reluctantly lay back in the dentist’s chair.  On the wall was a print that I found quite beautiful.  It was a shoal of fish (they looked like goldfish but it was difficult to tell as the whole picture was overlaid with a soothing blue wash, for obvious reasons).  I stared at it as I suffered the horror of the drill, the sprayer and the sucker and two pairs of hands pulling my mouth into hideous shapes, whilst I desperately tried not to swallow or gag.  Strangely, I found the picture quite calming.
When I got home, nursing a sore and sagging mouth, I glanced in the mirror to ascertain the damage, and noticed that I was wearing fish earrings.  Reflected in the mirror was not only my lopsided face, fish dangling from my ears, but the fish wallpaper that I’d chosen a few weeks previously – and regarded with horror by the decorator, who seemed strangely reluctant to paste it to the walls.  In the kitchen was the pack of salmon that the husband had got out for tea….
It was all getting a bit Tales of the Unexpected…..
Goldie, I’m sorry I lost interest in you after a very short period of fascination.  I’m sorry your end was undignified, and that I wasn’t there to comfort you.  And I’m sorry you ended up as fish food.  Now, Goldie, can you please RIP, wherever you are?
Goldie - and Other Fish
 My Life as A Goldfish (as told to Jill Reidy)
Round And round And round And round And round Food Bob up Back down Turn around And round And round And round And round And round And round
Thanks for reading, and if you've enjoyed it, please leave me a comment or a like - Jill
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