Friday, March 7, 2008

~ a fine kettle of fish

I guess you could still call me a relatively new blogger. I’ve been uploading lunacy since the dying days of September 2007, and more or less keeping to a self-imposed regimen of four to five posts a week.

But lately it’s been getting hard. Not because I’m losing interest – I want to make that very clear, as I believe the weblog is an important new medium. It’s more because of my recalcitrant brain. I have reams of ideas, it’s not writer’s block - but I’m prone, as regular readers may have gathered, to periods of despair during which writing is a trial.

Why am I subject to these lapses? I must be bi-polar - at least to some extent. My mind has probably been set askew by drugs. Or slowly fogged by the murky vapours of hepatitis. The intermittent stress of living with a beautiful sylph who has an even more hellish inner life than me - that must play a part too. Then there’s the accursed Spasmo-Nemigron and the way it drains the spirit. And the chaos I have naturally generated about myself as long as I have walked this Earth. And the fear, love and stress of serving as progenitor to the precious Polly. And the nagging witch of penury. And the slow ripping talons of age. And the lofty expectations I set myself – while blithely ignoring the existence of all the above.

But before I drive myself deeper ad profundis with self-pity, I will cease
this catalogue of my trials. After all, you are probably quite familiar with most, if not all, of my afflictions. I suspect I’ve moaned and groaned enough for now.

I just want to beg your indulgence, apologise for not answering your comments in a timely way, for being generally uncommunicative. It happens from time to time, there’s not much I can do about it, and I pray you won’t damn me for it.

I’m thankful I have a forum where I can vent so openly. I'd like to think that other online diarists suffer what I am suffering now and live to write another day. Actually, I feel better already. You can put away the restraints. I’m feeling much much better now. Really. Nurse, I won’t be needing whatever’s in that needle …

Now a delightful reward for enduring my lamentations. For your certain pleasure, allow me to share a little tale I’ve been wanting to tell for a while. It’s the kind of story that only works because it’s true. And because it happened in Queensland.

I was determined to include it in my slowly evolving play, Ambergris, but it wouldn’t fit, it seemed made-up, and today I finally admitted this to myself.

As wise old editors say: once you’ve finished your final draft, go back, find your favourite line and delete it.


It was Nikki Lambert who posted me the article from the Courier Mail. I think this was around the turn of the century..

I had intended that it be retold like this …

beamish: The Midas was a long-line fishing vessel … They’d hit upon a concentration of tuna; the sea was boiling with them, and with frenzied sharks... The crew couldn’t haul fast enough; they’d been working like dogs for hours, not a second to scratch themselves, when Tony noticed that The Greek was missing….

This was a guy they'd hired at the last minute; big ugly bloke with a ventriloquist moustache, ears like starfish and a hairy black mole on his nose the size of a marble. They scoured the ship for him, but The Greek, he was well gone. Reluctantly, they abandoned their work and criss-crossed the area till night. It was dawn when the captain called it quits. There’d been so many wired up sharks that day; he didn’t hold an ounce of hope for the guy.

You see, this captain had a special respect for sharks; once, he’d almost been taken overboard by a grey nurse they’d brought up by mistake. The thing was rabid and smeared in blood and convulsing round the deck like something they might have fished out of hell. It bit down on the guy, nearly dragged him through the rail, and he still bore the scars…

Anyway, the crew of The Midas had a meeting that night. What to do? Sail home, make a report? They were way out in international waters, the hold only quarter full in the middle of a teeming sea. If they left then they’d take a beating money wise, if they stayed, they’d clean up. It didn’t take long to decide what The Greek would have wanted. They’d fill the hold first. After all, what difference would it make? So they spent another week out there. Good catches – tuna, pink snapper, cod, jewfish, even an massive grouper which the captain knew he could sell for a mint to this particular Vietnamese restaurant.

blueboy: Which restaurant?

elspeth: Fine Kettle of Fish!

beamish: Shut up. I’m telling it. So they get back home, report the incident, sell the catch - and the captain goes out of his way to personally present the grouper to this extremely delighted restaurateur, who serves it up whole that night to a party of his most valued customers. This thing was fat and more than a metre long and nearly a hundred pound - there on a huge plate garnished with lemon slices, coriander, whatever. The maitre de starts slicing it up in situ and they tuck in with a vengeance. But just as one of them picks this hairy meatball the size of a marble from his mouth and all eyes turn to the fish - a filthy big human head just rolls on out onto the tablecloth.

elspeth: GIGGLING: With starfish ears …

morgen: I wouldn’t have recovered from that.

beamish: It got in the papers.

elspeth: TO BLUEBOY: Up here anyway.

blueboy: Really?

beamish: Yeah.

blueboy: Where’d this happen?

beamish: Way way up north.

blueboy: And… It’s a true story?

beamish: I said so, yeah.


Now, the original article has long been inhumed within the turmoil of my room, but I assure you the meat of this story is real. For accuracy’s sake, I’ll give you the important discrepancies

The name Fine Kettle of Fish is on the money, but unfortunately further research seems to suggest that it was a seafood wholesaler not a Vietnamese restaurant. Sorry. I’m sure the level of shock would have been similar and the human head was
definitely said to have ‘rolled out’. [And I guess, at the restaurant, the fish would have been gutted first.]

The fish was probably a 97 lb. 1.6 metre long Morgan Cod. This species, unlike groupers, are opportunistic bottom-feeders. ‘As cods do not attack humans it is believed that the crewman was ripped apart by sharks that habitually follow fishing boats to feed off fish scraps thrown overboard and that the giant cod, a bottom feeding fish, found and swallowed the head.

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dysthymiac said...

thanks for the story.
the Queensland part is believable.

Fishkillers 0, Vegetarians 1

"find your favourite line and delete it" ? WTF

angel wings and hearts said...

yes sam, i can identify with most of what you say re blogging. tho i would add "menopause" to my list. i have good intentions re keeping it up to date - not that it is particularly interesting for anyone else - but it is a record for me, as these days i seem to have a lot of broken biscuits in my head. i always enjoy reading what you have to offer. thanks for that.

Sam Sejavka said...

Re: deleting your favourite line. It's actually useful on occasion [but not always] - sometimes one can preciously hang on to something for reasons other than its usefulness to the text.