Friday, November 03, 2006

Seafood Mourning

What a week! It started out on Monday with the news that we’ll run out of energy supplies midway through the century then there was all that stuff about how we’re being watched all the time and our identities stolen, which rather begs the question – who do these people think they are watching because it’s probably not even us any more? Surreal. Then there was the disturbing news that we have the worst kids in Europe. Never mind, I thought yesterday afternoon as I borrowed The Trial from the library for the fourteenth time this year, I shall have a fish supper. That will cheer me up.

I despise Tesco but we no longer have a decent fish shop in Hackney and I don’t have time to schlep up to Islington and stand in the queue at Steve Hatt’s and I need toilet paper too. I know Tesco keeps a record of everything I buy there on my credit card because they diligently discontinue any product that I purchase more than twice and obviously have decided I like. They move everything around at least once a week so actually finding the same item twice requires the deduction capacity of a particle physicist. I can’t be doing with capitalist head games so, if I don’t find what I’m looking for in one ten minute swoop, I conclude I no longer need it. When it comes to consumerism I am overwhelmingly attention deficient.

The tuna looked tired. It had come all the way from The Maldives which was the obvious cause of its exhaustion. I picked a little tray of far more locally gathered and sprightly organic salmon from County Mayo. It was delicious too. However, my continued enjoyment of this Omega 3 rich treat is under threat I find today as the news reaches our perpetually eroding shores that the world’s fish stocks will be totally depleted by 2048. A quick calculation reveals that I could potentially still be alive then, although what will keep me sustained is a matter for conjecture. I may need to develop a palate for thistle.

Why does everything have to change so rapidly and so persistently without warning? One minute we’re sitting comfortably watching Blue Planet whilst nibbling on smoked salmon and cream cheese bagels and the next thing you know, we’ve turned the great oceans of the world into a last supper of bouillabaisse. I suppose we’ll have to find an alternative for ‘plenty more fish in the sea’ now. How about, ‘plenty more men out there to sleep with you and wait three weeks to call you, if they ever do’? Problem is they don’t make a very good tuna bake.

We seem to leave no stonefish unturned in our quest to consume the remainder of the planet’s resources. Is there a Guinness Book of World Records attempt going on here that I don’t know anything about? In the future will there be a Nobel Prize for finding Nemo? Will strange solitary men still put up funny little tents for the day and drop long poles into the canals of Britain? Probably, because they are not really fishing, they are looking at the pictures in The Sun, drinking Carlsberg Special Brew and sacrificing maggots in a satanic ritual.

When the fish are all exhausted, and I don’t mean because they’ve had to fly from the Maldives, there will surely have to be a competition for a new national dish to replace fish and chips. Battered thistle doesn’t sound all that appetising. I know that, theoretically, you can batter everything from spouses to Mars bars these days but batter doesn’t really go with anything but fish, does it? There’ll obviously be bids from dishes like Chicken Tikka Massala and Toad in the Hole to fill the Friday night void but these are both quite hard to eat out of newspaper with a toothpick and impossible to consume if you are holding a pint in the other hand. There will also need to be an alternative dish for a children’s standby. They can’t eat nuggets and chips every day of the week. Will there ever be another interpretation of organic matter quite like the fish finger? May it rest in pease pudding.

Yo Sushi! will have to change its name to No Sushi! All you’ll get is little piles of rice with strips of omelette on top snaking their way around the restaurants all day in a sad little procession, as hungry punters cry into their Asahi beer and remember the good times. Harry Ramsden’s will be turned into a furniture shop and Captain Birdseye will be on the first plane to a Swiss euthanasia clinic I shouldn’t wonder.

Think of the sea creatures that will starve because they don’t eat anything but fish. It’s not as if they can adapt to fried Mars bars. Polar bears will need to change their diet dramatically and develop a taste for BBC documentary makers. Dolphins and seals will clog up the courts as they challenge their forced redundancy from Sea World and petition for back pay. Penguins will have to fall back on their stocks of chocolate coated biscuit snacks. Poor Pingu. Pet fish will be robbed of their dream of one day returning to the wild – there will be no wild as they remember it. There will of course be Canning Town but it’s doubtful whether any of them would want to go there.

Still, some good might come of it. If there are no fish left, we won’t really need that much ocean any more so it could be drained off to create extra land for people to build houses and golf courses on. Glass bottomed boats could be converted into temporary accommodation for asylum seekers so the Government can watch them round the clock. Holiday makers could just cruise around Hampstead Heath with George Michael as tour guide. As long as there is a good selection of nightclubs and copious jugs of vodka and cranberry, nobody’s going to notice that they aren’t in Mykonos or indeed, if Alexei Sayle is standing in for George. And, best of all, David Attenborough can finally retire. There is a bright side to every broadside.

Cartoon from

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