Living alone in London can leave you with an abundance of different sensations.
Independency, maturity, creativity, yet surprisingly in the most populated city in the European Union (oh wait), the most common feeling is loneliness. Everyone experiences it, but no one ever talks about it. It’s a city where people shut off their human interaction abilities and turn on their resting bitch faces, as it feels like the safest and most efficient way to get about. My cure for this has always been pets. Reliable, dependable, pets. And the odd tinder date here and there.
Whilst flat hunting, I learnt that you will almost never find a landlord in the city centre that will allow you to keep a pet in your ‘affordable, self-contained and efficient’, dramatically over-embellished studio apartment. So when the request for my beloved guinea pig to join me was abruptly rejected - before I could even give the full extent of my sales pitch - due to the mythical/potential allergies of the surrounding flat inhabitants, that at no point have they attempted to enquire about… I had no choice but to overcompensate with a wealth of pot plants and grass heads. Giving them whimsically butch human names, like Gareth and Keith, as a desperate attempt to personify them. (As I type this, I realise I sound like a nutcase).
Anyway, last weekend I decided to finally bite the bullet (from the gun that's going to be aimed at me when my parents read this!) and buy a fish tank, because no one could possibly be allergic to a pathetic goldfish. After ample research, I bought a whopping, competitively priced, 17L tank from Argos, which I set up with the adoration and excitement of a doted 20th century housewife. I’m surprised the local wildlife didn’t burst through the windows singing a merry tune to assist me, whilst I simultaneously made dinner for 7 dwarfs with adjectives for names.
Then having spent all day at work narrowing down name options, (Squish, Bruce, Beans, Othello & Romeo) I trekked to the nearest Pets at Home like a kid who’s just been told they’re going to Disneyland. The anticipation coursing through me like electricity… or tequila, for those who can't relate to homeware appliance malfunctions. The automatic doors opened like the pearly gates (please make the metaphors stop! Like a..) and in I went. Pet shops are my ultimate happy place. Whilst wanting to run over to the fish and shove my face against the glass, I decided to tease myself and mooch over to the caged animals first. For those who know me, this was a very dangerous move. I can become emotionally attached to a guinea pig in a matter of seconds. All they have to do is squeal and the maternal endorphins kick in with gusto.
After finally prizing myself away, I headed over to the coldwater fish and found a shop assistant, who without hesitation, asked me which ones I wanted. No interrogation, which was lovely as you so often get self-righteous moron managers in Pets at Home, getting all up in your grill, preaching about animal welfare like, ok mate, I’ve had guinea pigs for 13 years, don’t start telling me how to feed them, clean them, walk them, baptize them into the Mormon church. Just hand them over and no one gets hurt.
So I started off by telling the woman that I had a 17L tank. ERROR. She immediately told me that ALL the fish were off limits except a MAXIMUM of 2 of the puniest and ugliest excuse for a fish breed I’ve ever seen in my life. Bitch, they’re not fish, they’re tadpoles. She could tell I was a little taken aback. I did not think this through. I should have stayed quiet about the size. I knew these bible-bashers wouldn’t let ANY tank pass the test, regardless of the size. They sell tanks, smaller than the one I have, in their shop, yet deemed mine laughable and utterly unacceptable. So who the hell’s buying >15L tanks from Pets at Home with all the Spongebob accessories you could possibly dream of, to let 2 pieces of sperm aimlessly float about in it?! I didn’t come all the way to Battersea in rush hour for THAT! So I asked again, “Not even ONE of those small goldfish?” “No, they grow bigger than that and can’t live in a tank your size”.
Not to accuse you of being mathematically inept, (oh but trust me I am!) but do you want to tell me how many fish are squished up against the glass in that lame excuse of a display tank right now. A tank which is about 10L smaller than mine.
It seems as though goldfish can’t live in anything other than a Seaworld size tank (which further emphasises what whales are entitled to #TitsOutForTilikum), so why sell tanks this size? Why allow the mass rearing of so called domestic fish and why market them as a child’s first pet, promoting them as a decoration until the second someone wants to purchase one, where you decide to educate them and turn them away. I understand mini background checks are needed before someone buys a pet. As a huge animal lover, it reassures me to know that no one can buy a pet on a whim. But I’m no Darla. These 2-3 fish I was hoping to get would be spoilt rotten. Cleaned, fed and entertained to the highest standards. I just want something to come home to that isn't a pot plant.
So I left the shop. With no fish. But oh so much rage.
I'm returning the tank today as well as writing a stiff letter to the Daily Mail, to help the RSPCA on their journey to stop trusted sources from selling these inhumane size tanks. This emotionally traumatic experience has been an even harder pill to swallow after an incident a few months back, when I finally got my parents drunk enough to agree to get another pair of guinea pigs to join my last surviving piglet. It had been a tiring 4 years of begging, bribing, lengthy powerpoint presentations and consistent rejection. This was a Christmas miracle.
Every time I’ve ever stepped foot in the Pets at Home near ‘home home’, there have been the cutest, fluffiest, noisiest little pigs you could ever imagine. Yet on the day I was finally allowed to take them home – which is when I had the pleasure of being served by Preachy Pete - it was clearly runt season. We drove a few antagonising miles further to another pet shop that just had 2 guinea pigs left. They were perfect. Until we introduced them to my pride and joy, when it became apparent that one of them had been possessed by the devil. We ended up with no other choice but to take them both back, allowing my parents to make a point and change their minds. I was heartbroken.
These incidents are clearly a sign from God... or Joseph Smith, that I have been eternally cursed after making the harrowing decision to put down Kevin, the legend of a Roborovski hamster, that I illegally harboured in my student halls for 2 years. Or it’s a sign that Pets at Home is shit. I'll let you make your own mind up.