The melancholy fishmonger

February 10, 2012 § 2 Comments

It’s been a long day.

The two little girls playing up at his counter whilst their dad looks for parmesan – well, it’s the last thing the fishmonger needs.

People asking for this, asking for that, can you fillet it, can you bone it, can you skin it, was it sustainably sourced, did any dolphins suffer? Are they Indonesian prawns or Singaporean prawns?

How the chuff should he know?

Bloody celebrity chefs giving people ideas, that’s what it is. Gordon this and Jamie that. One week they all want sea bass, the next week hake. He’s three beautiful trout been sat on that ice most of the afternoon and nobody’s given them a second glance. It’s all about what’s fashionable, see?

He’s been in fishmongering forever. There’s a skill there and there’s not many still have it. It takes time. Time and effort. Bloody supermarket thinks they can put some trainee on with him, some young oaf handling the mackerel like it’s cans of soup or packets of biscuits. No sensitivity. No respect.

The two girls are giggling and pointing at the trout, and it’s more than he can bear when one of them puts her hand over the counter to prod the glistening skin with an outstretched finger.

In a weary voice he says, “Please don’t touch the fish.” As if he were a zookeeper, warning people away from lions.

And the little girl begins to shriek. Seems the trout has a tiny trickle of blood emerging from an eye.

The father leads the girls away as the fishmonger rearranges his trout. Truth be told, he’d rather nobody bought them. They don’t bloody deserve them. Bloody customers.

Some days he feels like weeping too.


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