Sunday, August 24, 2014

a fishy tail

I wrote this for the Sunday Scribblings 2  prompt 'from the front pages'.

They used to say “Today’s news is tomorrow’s fish and chip paper”. That was of course before the worthy guardians of public health and safety decided that wrapping food in newspaper was an unhealthy practice. Something to do with eating poisonous lead from printing ink with our battered cod apparently! Paint used to have lead it too as I recall. That got banned as well, although I don’t ever remember being tempted to drink a can of white gloss myself. I digress! The thing is, what’s news one day is often forgotten by the next. It drops from the front pages into the recycling bins of our minds!
     Years ago a chap called Jeremy was tucking into a large haddock and medium chips ('Fries' I believe they are called by our friends across the pond) when something in the bottom corner of the newspaper wrapping caught his eye. Apparently, a lottery prize of several million pounds was as yet unclaimed by a ticket holder in his town. Suddenly Jeremy remembered he hadn’t checked the numbers on which he’d placed a pound the previous Saturday. Well, he rifled around in various pockets until he found it. You can probably guess what I’m going to say next, and you are absolutely right! Jeremy had in his hand a ticket to  the exclusive club of millionaires!
     The next day Jeremy was all over the front pages. As per usual his tale of luck and good fortune was soon to become the next day’s fish and chip paper.
     Mary lived the other side of the country. It was Friday, and every Friday she got herself a small hake, chips and mushy peas. She was sitting in front of the TV, just as many of us did on a Friday night with our newspaper parcel of food on our laps. She finished her meal and started to screw up the grease-stained front page of the previous days’ Daily Mirror. Something caught her eye; a photo of a familiar face. Not exactly as she remembered it, but a familiar face none the less. She saw the child in the twinkling eyes of the grinning prize winner of an over-size cheque which he proudly held for all to see. They were eyes she hadn’t seen since the war years when as a child she was separated from her brother, Jeremy. That was fifty two years ago.
      To cut a long story short, they enjoyed a happy reunion thanks to their fish and chips! Their story was emblazoned across the front pages of the national press and then ...forgotten.
       ‘How do you know all  this?’ I hear you ask. ‘It was, after all, yesterday’s news’. And the more observant among you may also have realised that newspaper used as food wrapping went out long before the national lottery came into being.  So, you are right. I made the whole yarn up. But I’d like to think that once upon a time, somewhere, something like that happened. 


  1. Well if you hadn't have pointed the time delay in newspaper and the lottery i would have been too slow to figure it out...i would imagine such fishy tales do exist though...they have to don't they!

  2. This took me back many years and the nod of thanks we received from Campbell the fish shop man and his two daughters that worked there when we plonked a heap of old newspapers on the counter when ordering our Friday night fish and chips. I don't think mushy peas where sold there though!

    1. Mushy peas used to be a northern thing, but nowadays all the chippies down here on the south coast sell them - and I LOVE them!

  3. I suspect that there's much more truth than fiction in your yarn! ;)

    An Ernest Whirl



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