South London Photographer: Fishy crisis

Oh dear, I think to myself. He’s really not very well at all. As I’ve been watching him for some time now, I have to admit it’s abundantly clear, indefatigably true, undeniably apparent that something is fundamentally wrong with him. His little black fins flap furiously as he tries to right himself. But just as he’s been doing constantly since I noticed, he gives up, floating to the top of the bowl where he bobs listlessly. And upside down too. Until the next time he musters enough strength to try yet again. Poor thing. He’s quite, quite unbalanced.

Oh, my god, I cry, I think I’ve killed the fish. Somehow, as I prepared to clean the water, I must have damaged his fin or something. Because now, this poor little creature, whose name incidentally is Joseph, can’t help but float upside down at the top of the fish bowl. I peer closer and notice his tummy. Is it fat, I wonder? Yes, I think it’s fat. Maybe Joseph is pregnant. Oh, Mary, mother of …. Little fish, we’ll have little fish. What will we do with little fish? And how many little fish?

Hang on a minute, do fish even give birth? No. They lay eggs. I do remember that much. And how fat does a goldfish with a stomach full of teeny, weeny tiny eggs get? I may not be that ‘up’ on fractured fins. But I know about reproduction. And I don’t ever recall hearing that pregnant fish swim upside down, (even though the experience may well have turned your own life upside down; it did mine). So, it probably won’t be pregnant, will it? As always in times of confusion nowadays I reach for my phone and type into a search engine, ‘upside down goldfish’. My eyes fly eagerly through the links and rest on something looking vaguely relevant. After just a few moments it is more than obvious I’ve probably not harmed Joseph at all. Phew! And, he’s almost certainly not expecting. That’s good too. What’s most likely is that poor old Joseph has a bad case of wind.

Joseph just needs to fart. Really badly, it would seem.

Yes, that’s awful. It’s not usually fatal, but a tummy full of trapped air is dreadfully uncomfortable, as everyone knows. So, for the next day or so I feed Joseph tiny pieces of chopped up defrosted peas as instructed on the web, and before very long he has righted himself and is no longer looking like a very pregnant, albeit upside, Josephine. No births. But no deaths either. “It’s alright, boys,” I report, “No need to euthanise the goldfish this week.” They look up from various screens, grunt at me and life continues as before. Which, in Joseph’s case, is truly great news.

Story: just one of many moments from our summer holidays. Pictures: taken in France near the town of Cap Ferret, where we went camping this summer. A beautiful part of the world. And good for fishing apparently although I’m not sure Joseph and his friends would agree.

For all those heading back to school this week, have fun.

SJ x

Images (c) SJField 2016

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