Monday, June 25, 2012


There is a quotation from Sylvia Plath tacked to the wall above my computer. It says that "everything is writable about" and that "the worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt". It being a lean week for creativity, I was casting about for an idea – big mistake by the way, ideas skitter away like mice if someone is looking for them – when George, the resident thief, brought one in and dropped it on the carpet.  It was a goldfish and it glittered.

After finding a shark on my lawn last week – another story and I haven't yet found a way to burrow into it – a goldfish seemed like a fairly broad hint. No idea where George found it; as far as I know there isn't a goldfish pond within cooee except the one six houses down, guarded by two large dogs. 

I gave George a sour look and asked him if he wanted fries with that. He smirked. I picked up the fish, which immediately came to life with a leap and a wriggle. Waah! Where's a BOWL when you want one in a hurry.  I found one and filled it with water, dropped the fish into it and waited.  It flicked a fin.  It waggled its tail. It bobbled a bit but stayed upright. If it died, fine, I could hold a wake – any excuse for a party.  If it lived – well, I didn't want a goldfish, but friends have a pond which is the domain of a turtle with attitude. It doesn't tolerate anything smaller than itself in its habitat and while it moves ponderously on dry land, in water it's apparently lethal. No, it's not called Ninja but it probably should be.

I rang the friends. The turtle was asleep under a bush somewhere and would be for the next couple of months, so yes, it would be safe to put the goldfish in its pond.  We tipped it out and watched while it thought about life and its astonishing twists and turns. After all, within an hour or so that fish had been places and seen things beyond its ken.  Although if it's true that goldfish have an attention span of only seconds, perhaps life passes them by without making much impression.

Reports indicated that, after a quiet time presumably recovering from shock, the goldfish had begun to explore. The next day it was positively chirpy and had acquired a name. Now, four days on, we are uncrossing our fingers. Finny is apparently fine, and its wake has been postponed.

* With a nod to James Joyce - and the painting is part of "Estuary"

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