Happy New Year to everybody out there, I hope 2009 brings you more money than we're promised, less doom and gloom than we're promised and a fairly sturdy umbrella if it all happens to come true. The Millennium Housewife family had rather a chilled new year actually, for once less than a vat of wine was consumed, although this was mainly due to Husband being at death's door (read: in bed with a cold demanding lemsips and attention). The only glum moment was the goldfish dying. Yup, sorry to say but old Sally has carped it (pun utterly intended, should you have doubted it for a second), in fact less of the old actually, she's only about six months but then every goldfish month is the equivalent to twenty human years according to the man who sold it to me (door to door, he also sold lucky heather which I bought and tied to the goldfish bowl). So really Sally was about eighty and had had a good innings and was due to visit that old fish pie in the sky.
Sorry if all this has come as a shock, I know how much she meant to you all and how you enjoyed hearing about her adventures in the bowl water continuum having had ooh precisely zero posts dedicated to her. But a death in the family is a death in the family and worth noting.
It happened New Year's Day, I'd staggered down bleary eyed, with Isla already waxing lyrical about the adventures Barbie and Sally were going to embark on today (it involved Barbie's new bikini which I have to say is far too old for her, and possibly pornographic). Isla's lilting crescendo of waffle died low (but not as low as Sally's obviously) as she spied the upside down, floating, mouth-stilled Sally (you've all seen it before). Look at that mummy she yelled in her prettiest voice, Sally's sunbathing like Barbie. Grasping the oft withheld opportunity to not explain Life And It's Miseries to my child I hummed agreement and carried on a one sided conversation about how Sally might like a bikini to match Barbie's while simultaneously fetching the sieve (bless that multi tasking gene). It was at the point where Isla was musing as to whether Sally would like a two piece pink sparkly bikini or a purple all in one that she saw the sieve. What have you got mummy? Ah. Errr, I stalled, shirking yet another opportunity to enlighten my child (come on, I was in the zone), I was going to sift some flour.
Really? boomed Isla, are we going to make shortbread?
Um, OK, why not?
So the morning was spent making shortbread while Sally sunbathed it away making absolutely no effort to help. That is until Husband lumbered down and enquired loudly as to why the fish was dead. Dead? Isla squeaked (at last! a way to get her to lower the decibels), we thought she was sunbathing didn't we mummy? Husband shot me a reproachful look and knelt down as if to begin a heart to heart with his eldest child about life, love and the Universe. She probably is sunbathing yes darling, he said (coward!), I'll have a look.
As we bent, ear to ear over the goldfish bowl we whispered urgently about how to save the situation. In a moment of inspiration I ran to the cupboard and grabbed a straw. Lifting Sally I attempted the kiss of life by breathing down the straw. Husband looked at me as if I had just offered to clean the skirting boards. But I knew, I'd seen My Mother do this to a catfish we'd inadvertently caught while fishing in Florida (apparently my dad hadn't thought we'd catch anything so it wouldn't do any harm. It did do rather a lot of harm though to the catfish). Husband whispered something along the lines of My Mother's face looming over any corpse would be enough to scare it back to life, but soon got into the drama by coaching, one two three, clear! yelling in time with every breath. He even cut a sliver of carrot and waggled it above Sally, she might think it's a man goldfish and give her something to live for he explained helpfully. But to no avail, Sally's little fishy soul had well and truly left the building, no autographs please. We lifted her towards Isla, look towards the light! bellowed Husband in a moment supposedly Spiritual but I suspect lifted straight from Hollywood. We knelt down, attempting to stroke Sally kindly and without any sign of fish phobia, and explained as gently as we could about dying and how a fish's last wish was always to be flushed down the toilet. Isla took it well and even said a few farewell words above the toilet bowl before waving as we flushed. She turned to us, sadness etched on her face, are you OK darling we asked kindly, yes she said, it's just..it's just.. who's going to swim with Barbie now? Quite.
So now we have another fish, a more resilient one we imagine given the race to get her back in the bowl after Isla attempted to get her into her bikini. One that hopefully will live to at least a hundred and give Isla many months of pleasure. We've pulled out all the stops and placed another piece of lucky heather on the bowl.