‘Right, so I’ve just heard Simon wants us to find him a performing animal, and no dogs! Any ideas guys?‘
I was working on the an audition show with a lovely team and had headed back down to the production office from derigging where we had been shaving and waxing several men.
A partly frantic buzz started to go around the room as we tried to find a solution.
‘Come again, sorry? How long have we got?‘
‘He’s challenged us to find a performing animal and it can’t be a dog. He wants it by the next judges break so we should have about an hour and a half‘
‘Okay, how about a cat?’
‘What tricks could a cat do? I don’t think we could train a cat in an hour’
‘A goat? A horse?’
‘No, it don’t think it’s allowed to have hooves and I don’t know where would we get a horse from!?’
Did I forget to mention we were in central Birmingham? So, unfortunately, there were hardly any farms hanging around with horses to loan. Besides, as our plan was to collect said animal in a taxi or car, unless it was pulling the cab, the horse was unfeasible.
‘Okay, how about a parrot?’
‘Good idea but where do we get a parrot from and what do we do with it after?‘ The production team were going back to London in the morning, which posed an even bigger issue. We didn’t know what to do with the animal afterwards.
‘Fish? How about a goldfish? Easy to find and doesn’t need any special licensing before performing’
‘A goldfish would work!’ We’d struck gold.
‘But what tricks could it perform?’
‘It could swim through a hoop? Like Quidditch – Harry Potter fishes! Anyway, we need to find one first’
It turns out that not many people want to loan you a goldfish, nor does Birmingham have a great ‘Goldfish For Hire’ service.
‘We could it take it back to London on the train and the tank should fit. I could maybe take it home too if needed’ someone suggested to get round the issue of what to do with the fish after.
I then decided to pipe up. ‘Well, my boyfriends coming to pick me up in a car and my mum already has fish. It’ll be fine for me to look after them if you wanted’
We agreed that if someone didn’t want to take them on the train then I would instead. I just needed to tell Jack, my boyfriend, now so I dropped him a text:
‘Heya. Might be bringing some fish home. Just to warn you. Xx‘ I began.
Three dots popped up and soon enough he responded.
‘Oh, okay. I’ll make some room in the freezer. Xx‘
‘What?!?! Xx‘ I replied confused. He was going to freeze my goldfish and turn them in to coldfish!
‘For the fish that you’re bringing. Xx‘
‘But they’ve already got they’re own tank. Xx‘
‘THEY’RE REAL FISH!!!‘ Came a sudden response.
‘Yeah, long story. Will explain in the car! Can you get a table ready? Love you Xx‘
‘As long as it’s not a shark. Xx‘ Jack said and I could tell he thought I was barmy.
News soon got to me that the fish were going to be mine and I could take them home on one condition – the big orange goldfish was to be named Edwina. Edwina also had four friends of varying types and colours but she was the main star of the show.
I didn’t see them for a while but apparently they were wheeled in to meet the judges with a great reception and they very much enjoyed being in Simon’s company.
It was also the most enjoyable three days I’ve ever had working on a production and we wrapped shortly after 11.30pm with Jack picking me up at 12.15am ahead of a two hour drive. Luckily, because of this drive, I could head off early and had to sort my fish into small bags to travel. The fish couldn’t stay inside the tank as if they hit the sides it can damage them internally so they were better to stay in a bag of water that was going to be held in their half full tank. They’d already experience life inside the freezer bags on their taxi journey but once they were home with me they could settle. That being said fame was starting to go to Edwina’s head – we had to role out a red carpet to get her in to the bag.
We removed half the tank of water and next came the struggle of getting them in to the bag. The production room started to buzz as everyone watched us getting the fish out of the tank. I gave it a go with little success as I didn’t want to hurt the fish with the small net but with a helping hand (or two!) from the team we’d got them all ready to go safely. Edwina was beginning to write out her rider for the bag.
I met Jack in the carpark and heard some muffled laughter as I left carrying the tank with the fish net casually hanging out from my back pocket. Jack greeted me with a smile and the inside of my housemates slow cooker – she’d sent it in case we didn’t have anyway to transport the fish. After popping the slow cooker back in the car and the fish breathing a sigh of relief they weren’t about to get cooked, Jack took the tank and I got the fish in the bag from inside. By now Edwina was complaining that she needed a separate bag away from her other common fish friends. After an initial fish tank struggle, I got in the car and clicked in the seatbelt.
I turned to Jack and smiled. He looked at me and laughed back, “Only you” he said.
“What?” I asked.
“Only you would work on a show and come back with bloody fish who met more talent than you did!”
And if you don’t believe me, watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qaZoQmmwZPE