World’s first emo fish

I am very worried about Ben, our pet goldfish. We’ve had him a month, and he’s spent at least three and a half weeks of that time lying motionless on the bottom of the tank, hiding behind various ferns. Or he goes into the little Spongebob Squarepants pineapple house that I bought for him and sits there for hours with his back to everyone, listening to The Cure on his iPod. (Am I anthropomorphising overmuch, do you think?) And all this despite the fact that I’ve hoovered his gravel, treated his water with special drops, checked twice with the pet shop that I’m not over- or under-feeding him, left his filter unchanged to build up the good bacteria, etc, etc. I suppose at the very least, he is teaching the kids valuable life lessons, about expectation (‘A pet will be fun!’) and anticlimax (‘Why doesn’t Ben do anything, Mummy?’).

I’m sure my own mother wasn’t remotely traumatised by the decline of my goldfish, which developed horrible white spots on its body before it finally gave up the ghost. But then she also couldn’t be arsed to take me to the dentist when a bit of my filling fell out, until I got an abcess that caused my whole jaw to swell up like a balloon. They were tougher times, the 1970s. I had a friend who forgot to feed her hamster for weeks (the cage was in her bedroom) and it starved to death. And another who forgot to put her tortoise into hibernation, and found its frozen body in the garden. She then tried to revive it by pouring boiling water over it and its head fell off. You hear that, Benny Boy? Pets today, they don’t know they’re born.



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22 responses to “World’s first emo fish

  1. OMG, poor tortoise! I know I shouldn’t laugh, but..

    I’m useless with fish so daren’t comment! I’ve bought numerous gold fish for Amy and they last around 3 months tops.

    CJ xx

    • notwavingbutironing

      So I might have another eight weeks of Ben moping around? He’s staring at me right now with those mournful black eyes. Oh, the guilt…

  2. All I can do is giggle – I am sure that is not PC!

  3. My mother took our old cat on his final trip to the vet in a shopping bag with his head sticking out of the zipped up opening. Our hamsters were kept in an old doll’s house (my old doll’s house) and the rabbit was sent away without a word to any of us while we were at school. You have opened up many old wounds. Don’t even start me on the stick insects.

    • notwavingbutironing

      I can just picture the dying cat-in-a-bag. It’s not quite Paris Hilton’s pooch-in-a-pocket, but it could catch on…

  4. A month – that’s quite good going for a goldfish! I was never very good with pets. Rescued mouse from school fete – escaped and was never seen again. Guinea pig ate a lavender bush and blew up like a hovercraft (the skirt bit). Not as bad as my friend’s dad was cutting the grass with his flymo and ran over the tortoise – not sure if that’s an apocryphal tale or not. Pets are a good thing – teaches them about life
    and death early.

  5. Oh, what are you complaining about. At least you didn’t buy Ben a friend, and then discover he had eaten his corpse.

    • notwavingbutironing

      Thanks for that, Alison Deer and Coffee Lady. You have reminded me that there are worse fates for Ben to suffer than being understimulated to death by his novelty Spongebob Squarepants aquarium. At least he’s not being chewed or shredded.

  6. ladybird world mother

    Must stop giggling and treat this post with the respect it is due.
    (Oh, god did you read the comment about the guinea pig and the lavender bush??!! )
    Now, I recommend a good book for Ben.
    ‘Round and round’ by Imina Bowl. Marvellous stuff. Or get a Goldfish Whisperer in? Might do marvels. You never know.

  7. Now let the expert take the platform. Ahem….our goldfish, Thingy, has now lasted 8 years. His friend, Bobby (geddit…thingybobby) lived for 7 years. No other bugger in the house feeds him but me so quite frankly I wish he would do the decent thing and depart from this world as I could do with the worktop space.

    • notwavingbutironing

      Ladybird – yes, I’ve just re-read that bit about the lavender bush! Must get Alison to elaborate. And as for the fish whisperer, I think we’ve got one in….

      Trish – I am awed by your fish-wrangling skills. Eight years must be some kind of record! Tell me what I’m doing wrong! Why does Ben hate me?

  8. Ha ha ha! You’ve got an existential angst ridden goldfish.

    That just made my day…

    Time to worry: When you get up one morning and he’s painted his fishbowl black.

  9. This is so funny, especially the tortoise, it really made me giggle. Just read back and caught up on your blog, love your writing!

  10. I came back to see if your hair looked any better. No? Oh well….

    Fish have never lasted very long with this lot. Maybe it’s because I’ve never invested in a Spongebob Squarepants pineapple house…..

    • notwavingbutironing

      Gappy – I’m sure he’d redecorate if he could. Maybe he finds the Spongebob ornaments too vulgar?

      Pig – thank you! Have emailed you about Powder Room Graffiti. And have bookmarked your latest cake recipe.x

      MOTL – Thanks, but sadly, I’m still looking like Pam Ayres.

  11. And that’s the difference between an emo and someone in real pain – my friend’s goldfish used to jump out of the bowl and flap around on her credenza. Honestly Ben isn’t trying – I best he’s just loving all the attention he’s getting from us.

  12. dragondays

    I snorted coffee through my nose over the part about the tortoise – and am still giggling stupidly.
    The great thing about goldfish is the moment when you tip them down the loo and flush it (fish must be dead of course).
    I reckon Ben has his back to you as he has a waterproof laptop in his pineapple palace and blogs about life in his new home … check out!

  13. notwavingbutironing

    Mrs W – at least Ben’s not suicidal yet; he just has low self-esteem. I often feeling like flapping about on the credenza myself though.

    Dragondays – you could be right. Damn, this fish could make me a fortune!

  14. I spent half of my childhood pestering my parents for an outdoor pond, and the other half mourning the death of the fish- which I killed by using a brick to break the ice so they could breathe… we think it came as a bit of a shock and gave them all a heartattach but we will never be certain and achieve full closure. There weren’t any more.

  15. Aah – fish tales…..don’t get me started. Ok you just did. Student days – we got through quite a few little scaley buggers. And performed quite a few elaborate funerals with silk-lined coffins no less – viking ship aflame on the Exeter canal, sombre flaming pyres – I think we added some aerosol cans to get the party started I vaguely recall (or it might have just been to upset our pervy lonely-foreign-student-murdering neighbour – god…what if he really was?) Here I go again – off on my own winding trail. Back to fish – we succumbed to the incessant pet requests by providing the canabalistic and suicidal flappy things. One of them has been re-named from Fat Fucker to Harold after his repeated Harold and Maude-esque fake drownings. Doesn’t impress us anymore. No more gasps. Just a short sharp rap on the glass. My brother however had a fairground goldfish that lasted forever – he was re-named Hess as he had lived for so long on his own – even surviving drunken vomit invading his bowl one time. Back to your stroppy teenager – Finding Emo – Clearasil, cider and the lingerie section in the Freemans catalogue could be the answer.

  16. I put my daughter’s goldfish bowl on the heater one morning. When she came home from school he/she was belly-up.

    Lots of tears and reproaches.

    I really didn’t do it on purpose. Ever since we’ve stayed with furry animals which usually give an owner some feedback so you know when you’re in the right or in the wrong.

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