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By a Long Suffering Wife
From the newsletter of The Ilford and District Aquarists Society, England

Aquarists should come with the warning, “marriage to me can damage your sanity”. Unfortunately they don’t. And anyway who reads the small print? To start with love is blind but when the glitter starts to tarnish and you are heading for your first nervous breakdown it’s time to look realistically at life and come to grips with a few basic facts.

1. Fish come first, last and always.
It might be an occasion you have been looking forward to for weeks, spent a fortune on a new dress, suffered agonies at the hairdressers and got yourself all dolled up to the nines. Only to find sir is still unshaven and wearing dirty jeans and T-shirt and his reason for this state of unreadiness – “but they are breeding!” or “Arrgh! White Spot”, or some other reason of world shattering importance. So you beg, plead, cajole, threaten and eventually he trails along grumbling every inch of the way and you arrive half an hour late. From that auspicious start to the evening things gradually get worse. He won’t dance; he’ll ignore all others at the table and answers all questions in monosyllabic grunts. He will then proceed to get drunk and he will tell one of two people “his wife doesn’t understand him”, either the barman or the stunning red-head who is wearing (or nearly wearing) a dress that she deserves to catch her death of cold in. It is pointless to sulk or start an argument. He just will not understand why you are upset, (his father has told him all about women and their funny moods).

2. Do not speak disparagingly of any item in the house.
If you should make this mistake, resign yourself to the fact that you have lost the item for good. It’ll vanish into the fish room never again to see the light of day. No matter what it is a use will he found! Bread bins are perfect for storing all those fiddly little jars and tins. Tupperware containers – perfection itself for carrying fish, they’re watertight. Saucers can be used for a variety of things except for use with cups. Cheese grater, if it’s only been used for frozen beef heart you’ve a chance of re-claiming it, but once it’s been used for earthworms you need a new one. In the modern kitchen with all its gadgets, it’s advisable to keep your liquidiser under lock and key.

3. Develop a thick skin, a sense of humour, and the ability to cope when one of your guests has a fit of hysterics.
The first two seem self-explanatory but the third may heed some explaining to the uninitiated. The following are some examples that have been known to upset guests. Tubifex worms are all right in their place, the fish room. Buckets in the loo are just not on, regardless of how many water changes they need. Even worse are those containers that fit inside the cistern so there are always dead and dying worms in the bowl. This is particularly upsetting to maiden aunts. Sons, normally the most understanding of creatures, have been known to get upset when they’ve spent all evening and a week’s wages chatting up a girl, managed to get her home on the sofa in the living room fully believing their luck to be in. Only to find Dad’s white worms or maggots have escaped and are crawling all over the carpets or her feet. This is a known passion killer and girls never seem to accept a second invitation to come in for a “coffee”. And the effect that a six foot tank has when it bursts on the vicar’s wife just has to be seen to be believed.

4. Never accept anything he says at face value.
“You’re looking a bit peaky. A day out is what you need” – funny there isn’t a lot of daylight or sunshine in an Aquarium. “Learn to drive, just think of the advantages” – you can take a pair of fish to so and so or deliver a tank etc. My favourite, romantic that I am: “I’m taking you to France for a few days” – he’s seen all the local fish shops.

5. Have someone whose shoulder you can cry on.
You’ve slogged your guts out doing the housework until the place gleams, but he decides the tank in the living room needs to be stripped down. Buckets of dirty water fascinate small kittens, and ruin carpets. He tries to be helpful, mindful of last time you screamed at him about the mess, and decides to Hoover up the wet gravel causing the Hoover to blow a fuse.

Why do we stay? How do we put up with all this aggravation? We could say, “They are our husbands and we love them” – or we could tell the truth …Valium.


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