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"Each individual should allow reason to guide his conduct, or like an animal, he will need to be led by a leash."
Diogenes of Sinope

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Thousand Flowers tapestry (15th Century) - Beaune, France (detail)

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Ode to a carp

I'm a big fan of the obituaries in The Economist; they are witty, poignant, sometimes irreverent but always beautifully written. They are a reminder of how good journalism can be especially if a publication has high expectations of its readers.

The August 15 issue has an obituary for Benson, "England's best-loved fish", a 64 lb carp who lived in Kingfisher Lake near Peterborough. Benson floated belly-up to the surface on July 29th:

In her glory days she reminded some of Marilyn Monroe, others of Raquel Welch. She was lither than either as she cruised through the water-weed, a lazy twist of gold. Her gleaming scales, said one fan, were as perfect as if they had been painted on. Some wag had named her after a small black hole in her dorsal fin which looked, to him, like a cigarette burn. It was as beautiful and distinctive as a mole on an 18th-century belle. Her lips were full, sultry or sulking, her expression unblinking; she seldom smiled. Yet the reeds held fond memories of her friend Hedges, her companion in slinky swimming until she, or he, was carried away in 1998 by the waters of the River Nene.


Greed probably undid her in the end. She was said to have taken a bait of uncooked tiger nuts, which swelled inside her until she floated upwards. Telltale empty paper bags were found on the bank of the river. Or she may have been pregnant, with 300,000 eggs causing complications, or stressed after so much catching and releasing, those constant brushes with extinction. On the line between life and death, at Kingfisher Lake, she breathed the fatal air and did not sink again. And there she lay, like Wisdom drawn up from the deep: as golden, and as quiet.

1 comment:

Patsplace said...

From what I have read, the trout and earthworm, both have an IQ of 0. They function on instinct. The noble Carp on the other hand, is quite a bright fish and capable of limited reasoning.

A pity that such a Queen had to die. A true beauty.