My Goldfish, My Friend

This is my goldfish, Daisy. I wanted you to meet her because she is now nearly eight years old and I suspect she might not be long for this world.

We’re not big pet people in my house. Sure, we love animals – dogs are cute, kittens are fluffy, hamsters are nice enough if you like rats – but we don’t want the hassle of looking after them, of them disturbing our spontaneous lifestyle, and most of all we don’t want to spend the next 10 years clearing up their pooh.

Daisy was bought from a local petshop when my eldest boy was two-and-a-half. He wanted a gerbil but we decided he was way too young to be responsible for a pet. Daisy ended up being the compromise. I thought she’d be dead within a few months. Shows what I know.

She doesn’t take much looking after – a bit of fish food dropped into her bowl most days (if I remember) and a clean bowl once a week or so. The kids have long lost interest in her. Not surprising really – they can’t pick her up or stroke her or play with her or even study her, being as all she does is swim round and round and round.

But I think she’s special. I have even grown to love her. No, really. I know she’s just a goldfish, with a very short memory and no brains and all that, but I honestly believe we have developed a genuine rapport.

Every morning, when I walk into the kitchen, she rushes from the far side of the bowl towards me, pressing her face right against the glass. I peer in at her, and she definitely, definitely, has a flicker of recognition. I even think (and I know this sounds crazy, but really…) she is trying to communicate with me. This is far-fetched, I know, but maybe, just maybe, she is even a reincarnation gone awry – a human soul trapped in the body of a dumb goldfish.

Maybe, just maybe, she is trying to tell me something – about God, or the universe, or whether Sky was right to sack Andy Gray, or whether George Osborne really is a first class plonker with no idea about what he’s doing. If she is, how will I ever be able to work out what she’s saying? Is there a fish translation course I could go on?

She stares at me a lot as I go about my business in the kitchen. It is a bit unnerving – although admittedly less so since I realised she has no choice but to stare, not having eyelids.

I talk to Daisy a lot as I go about my chores in the kitchen – cooking or cleaning or preparing food or listening to the radio. This obviously says a lot about me, particularly that I am a bit mad in the head, but she is a good listener. You’d think so too if you met her.

In fish terms, I think she is also very pretty. She is a proper golden colour and has a long flowing tail. I am proud that she is my fish. My friend Daisy.

At this point in writing today’s blog I decided to look up goldfish on Google, just to check their expected lifespan. Excitingly, the world record is 43 years, so she could be with us for some time yet. On the downside, it would seem I have been: a. starving her by only feeding her a small amount of food once a day; b. making her life a misery by keeping her in a bowl, not in an aquarium; and c. making her life a misery (part 2) by keeping her alone. All the proper fishkeeping guides tell you very clearly that everything I am doing I should be doing the opposite of.

What do I do now? Buy a big aquarium? Buy her a playmate? Feed her more? I’m tempted to say she’s been doing just fine under our existing eating/living arrangements, but maybe her apparent desire to communicate with me has been fuelled by starvation and loneliness. Perhaps I am not a good person. Perhaps I am a bad person and should be reported to the RSPCA. Or the NSPCC (she is like a third child to me). I will have to give this matter some thought. To carry on, or to change course? Oh, what a dilemma.

PS: I had a goldfish once before. He was called Darren. He was won for me at a funfair, when fish in plastic bags were the traditional prize, by a boy called Darren who had a crush on me. (He was 14, I was 18). I took him with me to university (the fish, not the boy). The first time I went home, leaving him in the care of my so-called friends, he died (I think he had been fed to death). By the time I returned, he had been flushed away to the big fishbowl in the sky. I reckon my so-called friends wanted rid of him. Perhaps if one of you is reading you could tell me what really happened, November 18th, 1986?

    • Stephanie Shiels
    • August 21st, 2012

    Hi Jane. Please can you tell me the different steps you took to make your fishy survive so long

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