Monday, January 28, 2008

the aquatic grim reaper of death

What do you know about goldfish ? Probably about as much as me which is why mine have met several nasty or protracted ends over the last few years.
I initially bought them because I like to watch them. Two shimmering flashes darting round a glass bowl, gills heaving, mouths puckered in that absurd way which goldfish have. I love being underwater, suspended in a weightless galaxy of silent, slow moving transition, no sound but the limber pace of your heartbeat and above, the distant crash of waves. Watching them gives me something of an echo of that. It's peaceful. The Chinese consider goldfish fortuitous, especially for money, and although I ate one a while back in Indonesia (it was pretty good, incidentally) both Indonesian and Malaysian peoples hold them in high regard in folklore and superstition.

But for a time I couldn't stop killing the bloody things. The fact was even immortalised in a song my friends recorded for me, the chorus being;
"Missus Daisy Pearce,
You kill your fish,
And that is wrong."

It seemed that no matter what I did, they all went belly up in the end. I'd wake up in the morning and the first thing to greet me was the sight of a bloated piscean body floating on the surface of it's tank or bowl. It really dented my mood first thing, which is never very good anyway. After a chat with the incredibly helpful man in our local pet shop I kept an eye out for illness - fish have a fantastic range of diseases - white spot, swim bladder, fin rot, pop eye - but the problem is that you can't have a goldfish put down, and to leave an ill fish swimming with all the others risks contaminating them. Treating the water was a preventative as opposed to a cure, and when I noticed the siamese fighter fish looking - literally - pretty green at the gills - I had only one thing I could do.

The best way to kill a tropical fish is apparently, to freeze it. It slips into a painless coma and dies. So after several moments of indecision that is exactly what I did, sealing it in a scoop of water in an airtight bag and shoving it in the deep freeze. Thinking I was 'doing the right thing' I told my housemates about it over a pint later that day.
Their jaws sagged.
"Daisy. For fucks sake."

They got used to it after a while, little baggies of deceased fishes turning up in the freezer, or in the bin. Meanwhile I despaired, I have a hell of a guilty conscience under normal circumstances and at this rate I was turning into the Aquatic Grim Reaper. I don't know how these last ones have survived - they've had a few near misses - I've dropped them, moved them from house to house and at one stage nearly boiled them alive, not to mention the Sweetman incident which we won't discuss - but somehow these hardy little bastards keep on going. My friends had their revenge on me as well, by telling me exactly how long goldfish can live for. Turns out it's not the two year maximum I initially thought it was. It's anything up to fifteen years. Fifteen years ? I don't know where I'll be in the next fifteen minutes.

Monday, January 07, 2008

stitch and bitch, baby.

In the pub toward the tail end of the summer Finch was bemoaning the fact that she had nothing to keep her occupied in the evenings. While her boyfriend went to bushcraft sessions and judo or whatever it is he does Finch found herself square-eyed at the goggle box, until the early hours. Finch has always been one for hobbies and craftwork (not Kraftwerk - her music taste to the best of my knowledge has never extended to pioneering German electronica, although it should) and so she was talking about taking up an evening class in order to make proper use of her free time. To me being in the pub was a proper use of my free time and I told her this to which Finch replied;
"Daisy, don't you want to do a bit more sometimes ?"
"Well then," I said, with barely concealed annoyance at her admittedly true comment, "why don't you get Tina to show you how to knit ? She's been doing it since she was a foetus."
Tina nodded eagerly,
"Sure. I'd be happy to."

"See ? You get to make things to wear and it's cheap." I said.
"Great !" Finch was talking over me, "We can meet every week and bring food and have a stitch and bitch. It'll be genius! Wednesday good for you Daise ?"
"What ? No, no, this is your thing, not mine."
"Ah go on go on go on go on go on." said Tina, who is Irish, although I may have made this bit up.
"Can we drink ?" me again. Finch and Tina shook their heads.
"You can't drink and knit. You balls it up, you'll be dropping stitches everywhere."With incredible restraint I smiled and said through gritted teeth,
"Sure! Sounds great ! Count me in !" Tina and Finch exchanged looks and I knew my voice had gone all squeaky.

A few weeks later we were due to meet at six-thirty which gave me time for a quick couple of pints with Odge and Sweetman. At quarter past I grudgingly got to my feet and picked up my wool and needles, muttering something about 'bastard knitting bastard club'. Odge made a noise which may have been a laugh but sounded more like a strangled curse. Sweetman requested that I knit them a roll of toilet paper which they could then wash and re-use. It was with a heavy heart that I walked out of the cosy bar into the brisk wind carrying needle sharp freezing rain.
But by the time I arrived at Tina's place she had cleared a space for us all in her lounge, put on a pot of coffee and (here is the killer part) had baked a fricking cake. She sat us down and got us started and then the conversation descended into the ribald hilarity I always find myself knee deep in when I'm with certain people and not only did I find myself enjoying it but carried on with the knitting when I got home. Then I started taking it to work, prompting people to peer at me incredulously and mutter 'loser' as they walked into my office.
Fuck them, I thought, I'm a knitter, and I'm proud.

There is no moral to this tale. Once I'd knitted myself a decent pair of arm warmers I gave up for a bit, and generally forgot all about it, except for one drunken mistake in Bristol over Christmas. But when Tina suggested earlier that we start hooking up again on Wednesdays I leapt at the chance - because it's all about the company you keep and the bind of the group that means whatever happens in knit club (still a bit too close to 'shit club' for my liking) stays in knit club. It's nothing to do with the fact that we're meeting in a pub. Oh no.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

three men and an idiot watching this rubbish

Over the festive period - a time when some of the worst films ever made get dragged out to clog up the schedules, usually late at night - I've found I have at least one more guilty pleasure than I first thought. I adore shit movies. Any old guff starring Jennifer Love Hewitt or - God forgive me - Steve Guttenburg and I'll be there poised for the opening credits on the couch like an especially predatory widow.
Especially if I'm hungover. Then I really will watch any old toss. I've sat through more Channel Five Family Movies than I am prepared to admit, lest I spontaneously combust with shame. On New Years Day I caught myself watching Three Men and a Little Lady with a twinge of pleasure, because there is nothing better than a bad sequel. My Girl 2, Piranhas 2 (they can fly), Dr Doolittle goes Apeshit or whatever it was called, The Exorcist: The Beginning - described in the Guardian Guide as 'an unnecessary prequel' - sounds aces, as does Jackie Chan's The Tuxedo ('a misfiring comedy'). However, in watching Chan flip about the screen as though he is made of rubber I miss 'Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid', the multiple award winning, critically acclaimed western most often described as 'unmissable'. Unmissable perhaps, unless Chan happens to be on the other side.

The slowly dawning realisation that I would walk half a mile for a bad horror with lousy effects and a laughable plot but wouldn't lift the remote to watch 'a powerful and compelling drama' on the other side is something I'm only really half aware of.
There is more to it obviously - I have the attention span of a foetus and would only ever be described as 'highbrow' in an antonyms competition - but if I start telling you about that I miss watching 'I Still Know What You Did Last Summer.'
Seriously, it's set on an island and everything.