I really like fish. Not only am I keen eater of fish but I used to keep them. Yes, despite being a student and not exactly on the most money I kept a flock of danios. I like fish in every sense.
So… I have watched with attention and vituperation evenly balanced C4’s season on fishing. Oh what a mess this world is! No, I don’t like farmed salmon (bland) and yes I only buy line-tuna and no I am far from ideal but I do my bit and perhaps more to the point I understand my bit. I like fish whether it pootles in my tank or sizzles on my griddle.
In short we have a mess. We have fishermen chucking back the catch they aren’t allowed to land and that’s the catch I want to eat*. The village I live in has a butcher, a baker, a candlestick maker but not a fishmonger and this is an enormous shame for I would like to go beyond the salmon, tuna and cod. Yes, I would. And no I don’t mean invertebrates.
I will not eat invertebrates. I saw Heston Blumenthal cook a fucking massive crab and it looked like… Well, I dunno but I had watched “Starship Troopers” a bit earlier so you can imagine my ‘mares that night. I know, I know… lots of people think crab is very nice to eat and I am irrational to think, “You chuck rocks at it and run away screaming like a girl” but fuck me sideways that lit my fight and flight wires - it was a total monster. It was fucking hideous. It was waking-up drenched in sweat and screaming, “But No Mummy, No!” hideous. I don’t do prawns either. The woodlice of the seas are the prawns. I have an A-level (Grade A) in biology so I have dissected things you people wouldn’t believe (and things I didn’t duck fast enough to avoid - that is what happens when teacher is out of the room - heart fight!).
Now we get to a tricky issue. I have swum with sharks. Yeah, right, whatever but those nurses were 2.5m long which is a hell of a fish in anyone’s currency. The thing is I’m not brave. Quite literally I was more likely to be hit by the Subway delivery truck than eaten by one of those magnificent beasts. And they are magnificent - I am a fish fancier recall. To swim in their company was just magic. They have the functional elegance only shared by Molly from Neuromancer and fighter planes. They have a stark working beauty rather than a voluptuous one.
They look like fighters - they look like F-16s. They look like Vipers. My wife said they were beautiful apart from the mouth. OK, but that is the business end and when that M-61 Vulcan spins-up then beauty can take a hike for it’s time for the beast. I’d prefer a Rheinmetall-Mauser BK-27 but that’s just me. 20mm is for gays and Americans! You also have the issue of spin-up time for a Gatling…
Has any ‘plane ever wanted it’s intake painted with the shark mouth more than the Viper though?
So the crumple-faced Jockulent swear-chef is dispatched to investigate the shark-fin trade. And it stinks. Don’t get me wrong. I tend to think Gordon Ramsey is a git but on this he was right. He was right because “finning” is obscene. This is what they do. They catch the shark, cut it’s fins off and chuck it back in the sea, usually still alive. The rest of it is worthless. Well, shark ain’t great eating (my brother used to live in Japan where they eat any shit out of the briny - he didn’t much like whale either) so presumably shark fin soup is delicious? Indeed the only part of the fish worth the candle? Er… no. It isn’t. It’s fish-stock and rather bland. In Taiwan or London it will cost you maybe 80 quid a bowl but it is the Emperor’s New Clothes really. I can understand that. The one time I had caviar it was nothing to write home about apart from it being caviar (a party held by a guy from one of the ex-Sov ’stans - he had boatloads of the stuff - he also did a rather good Freddie Mercury impersonation and upset a direct descendent of Søren Kierkegaard by shafting his moll - I use the term advisedly because he was so Organitsaya** it’s true - up against the adjoining wall with a vigour that belied his gammy leg) at the most unholy of hours.
We were always at war with Eurasia.
So shark fin soup is nothing to write home about but it has a cachet so people get into boats and horribly kill noble beasts for it. Now don’t get me wrong. I’d love to be taught proper game fishing but only if, when I landed a tuna or a marlin, it was all eaten. Life and death are not games which is why we have games as well as life. The idea of finning such a creature and chucking it back to die is as repugnant to me as the idea of de-winging an F-16. A fish without fins is a ‘plane without wings - obscene. I am not saying such magnificent (though they are - you will never see Nick happier than in an aquarium other than at an aerospace museum running my paw over the flanks of a Sea Vixen in a manner that is frankly pornographic) creatures should not be killed but it is wrong to kill them so easily and for so little. That is dead wrong. There is no absolute moral argument from me (I like a sirloin for example) apart from the argument that beauty matters and it’s casual destruction to make over-priced and bland soup is an abomination.
It is time people got moral over this. It matters. An enormous part of what makes us human and gives us the right to lord it over the other critters is the capacity to refrain from arbitrary cruelty. I certainly don’t favour banning shark fin soup. I’m not that kinda guy and I also know that if it’s 80-quid a bowl now banning it would rocket both price and desire. Our Chinese chums ended foot-binding. They can end finning. They can do that for the same reason. Shark fin soup is high end and so are bound feet until you look at either naked and then they are foul. The soup is bland, the feet look dainty in silk slippers but bared they are horrendous. Stripped bare they are vile, so is the soup.
So enough cruelty to fish already! It is pointless evil.
*TESCO et al don’t do catch of the day. They love farmed fish because they can control the supply. That makes good business sense in terms of the logistics.
**His Dad owned a gold mine.