Eat more fish, the doctor told me.
Bad skin and your hair loss: more fish.
Depression and high blood pressure: more fish.
Putting on weight and feeling sluggish: more fish.
I asked her if she was on commission. She just laughed. I even asked her if she was a proper doctor at all. That wasn’t so funny, apparently.
“More fish,” she said. “It’s full of Omega 3s and oils and low in fat and has far fewer side effects than pills. Much better for you, especially at your age. So try more fish, then come back if you don’t feel better. But you will, you will, if you eat more fish.”
I’ve never really eaten fish, though, so what do I do? I head to the nearest fish shop and I point and I pay.
I don’t know why I bought a halibut. I’ve heard the name, of course. And it’s a fun word to say – halibut, halibut, halibut.
It was looking at me, so I decided to take it home. It was looking at me with one good eye; winking at me, eyebrow raised. How could I resist?
But then what? I mean, I picked it because it was cheeky. How was I supposed to cook it?
I used that Google thing our Stacey showed me and looked up ‘halibut’.
Wikipedia recommended it steamed and served in black bean sauce. Sounded like a lot of work to me for a fish. But before it told me that, it told me that it was a ‘right eye flounder’. That’s even more fun to say.
I picked it up and turned it over, aware of the slimy texture in my fingers. Sure enough, both eyes were on one side. One eye – the one with the cocky eyebrow – looked kind of normal. The other was smaller and squinted, as though the lights were too bright. It looked lobsided.
Don’t ask me why I carried it through to the powder room. It just seemed like the right thing to do.
If the lights in the kitchen were too bright, the lights in here were worse, that was one reason why I so rarely came in here. But, hey, it’s just a fish.
I opened the door on the bathroom cabinet and then I held Derek up at arm’s length. I had a vague memory of Stanley Baxter.
Or Dick Emery.
I held Derek up and aligned him with the mirror.
And there he was, gazing back at me with two good eyes. His eyebrows were raised in greeting, and his mouth seemed to be curved into a sardonic smile.
Harry Worth, that was it.
I didn’t quite know what to do with Derek after that. I’d named him and now I felt I’d met him. He’d smiled at me. How could I cook him now?
So, I took him back to the kitchen, washed my hands, then fetched my wife’s ‘sewing and notions’ basket.
She’d always hated it when I called it that.
I found a square of green felt and I laid Derek down on it. It offset the dark colour of his upper side very nicely. And then, with some fragments of lace, and a handful of sequins, I prettied him up. He looked a picture by the time I’d finished.
I don’t know about my hair or my weight, but I felt really quite cheered up by the time I’d finished.
Maybe I’ll take him to the doctor tomorrow, and show her. If she likes fish as much as she says, she’ll love Derek.