A Fishy Tale
When I first met Liz at the Royal College of Art, I was finishing my master’s degree, which happened to involve a revolutionary hi-fi project with a ground-breaking transcription turntable unit (remember, this was 1972!) and a very unusual pair of transparent horn loaded loudspeakers. Only reason I mention this is that it may have led Liz to think that I would be able to fix her hi-fi at home, so I was invited over. I promptly accepted. I never fixed Liz’s hi-fi. I also never left….
‘You’ll never walk alone’ is the song and, sure enough, it was not only me but also my large tropical fish tank with a beautiful collection of discus. The tank somehow made it up to Liz’s fourth floor flat in Maida Vale and found it’s place over a low bookcase – the centrepiece of the small living room, and the beginning of many embarrassing episodes. I will not go into details of how syphoning the bottom of such large tank could possibly end up on the living room carpet but…. I can’t go on without sharing the curious story of the upside-down catfish.
I had purchased said fish at Selfridges Oxford Street fish department thinking that it would be a great addition to the collection, if nothing else to help keep the inside of the glass clean and hoovering leftovers on the sand.
This was not to be…. When I came back to see if the catfish was doing what he was supposed to do, he was nowhere to be seen. Days, even weeks went by without a single sighting of the famous catfish. What we did notice, however, was that some of the discus were showing frayed fins, and not looking their happy self any more. Something was clearly very wrong so, one night, I left the room dark, waited a bit, and then promptly switched the tank lights on. There was the blinking catfish, very much larger and terrorising the tank inhabitants!! He promptly disappeared, but not before I worked out what he was up to, namely spending time hiding upside down in a hollow log which was an integral part of the tank landscaping!
It was clear that Mr Catfish could not stay. I contacted Selfridges, and they confirmed they would be more than happy to take the now larger catfish back.
A very stout polybag was prepared, the log was lifted, and after much chasing, the catfish was caught and placed inside the stiff polybag. As I was about to place the bag on the floor of my Bond Bug (no comment please), the blasted thing started to pierce the bag with his sharp spines!!! I rushed back upstairs, placed the bag in the sink and emptied a large Nescafe jar to transplant the catfish. That catfish was going crazy, those spines were VERY long and VERY sharp and, as I tried to cut the bag with the kitchen scissors, the catfish fell onto the floor and slid under the kitchen units. That would have been the end of the sad story, except behind such unit was the unused back door to the flat – found the key, opened the door, catfish slid out to the landing and we somehow managed to get him into the large jar.
I did get my money back at Selfridges.
I did not learn my lesson, and would love to share more stories about the koi carp on our current ponds, but have ran out of time and space for this issue…………..!