April 28th 2006
Writing about my wife and her difficulty with cooking yesterday reminded me of the odd story of The Trouble and the Fish.
This crawled out of the woodwork some time after we were married. We were talking one evening about when we were younger, in the days before weâ€™d met, and The Trouble said at one point: â€œIt was before I got my fish.â€
Before she got her fish? What did she mean? Sheâ€™d naturally taken me home to meet her parents when things started to get serious between us but I didnâ€™t recall ever seeing any fish there, neither in a goldfish bowl or tropical fish tank nor in a pond in the garden. Nor had I ever heard her express any love of anything Piscean. Intrigued, I asked her what she meant.
It emerged that The Trouble was fifteen years old at the time, it was one Friday tea time, and she had started work the week previously.Â The Friday before, as always on Fridays, the meal came from the chip shop. On the plates of her father and mother were fried fish, chips and peas. On the plates of The Trouble and her twelve-year-old sister were just chips and peas. However on the week in question things were slightly different. On the plates of her father and mother were, as usual, fish, chips and peas. Her sisterâ€™s plate showed no change either, being just chips and peas. But on The Troubleâ€™s plate, along with the chips and peas, was a fish.
At first she thought she had been given the wrong plate by mistake. But no, when she looked at the plates of her parents she saw that both of them contained a fish. Had her sister also been given the benefit of a fish, The Trouble wondered? No, on looking she saw that her sisterâ€™s plate was as fishless as it had always been. Why the change? She had to know.
â€œWhy have I got a fish?â€ she asked.
â€œWell youâ€™re working now, youâ€™re bringing in a wage packet,â€ said her mother.
I knew that the story was true, you couldnâ€™t make up a story like that, but even so it was difficult for me to comprehend. For what happened could never have happened in my parentâ€™s house. When we had fish we all had a fish, father, mother, me and my two sisters, and if fish wasnâ€™t affordable that week we would all do without it.
The thing is nowadays The Trouble doesnâ€™t like fish, whereas I love it. Mind you I had a fifteen year start on her to get used to its taste.