Two days ago I was awoken from my Covid sick bed by my son screaming. Turns out our goldfish, Goldflipper AKA “the boring dog”, had flipped right out of his tank onto our kitchen floor. A near-miraculous feat since the gap in the tank lid is about 3 cm by 7cm, almost exactly his size.
By the time I arrived, this Tom Cruise fish was back in but had been transformed into a carrot stick, motionless and wrapped in hair and other detritus from our eating area. I put my Covid-y hand in to detangle him, brushed off his little gills and gently led him around until a bit of life returned. A bit.
Travelling Underground indeed feels like being a pet being boiled alive alongside other neglected pets
For the subsequent 24 hours he looked like me in my Camden days, vacant-eyed, all palsied up on one side, drifting about in a state of uncomprehending doom. Two days on? Absolutely fine. Frilly of fin and shimmery of scale. I struggled to get across to my kids how remarkable his survival was: “It’s like falling off the Empire State Building straight into the void of space.” “Yeah, that wouldn’t happen, Dad. Gravity.”
Then I realised this wasn’t about the feat, it was about the reason behind the feat. After some investigation it seems Goldflipper was moved to escape because the morning sun had been shining directly on his tank, boiling the poor gasper in his own water. “It must have been like being on the TUBE!” was my triumphant declaration, and my kids couldn’t come back on that one, no sirree, because as they don’t well know, travelling Underground indeed feels like being a pet being boiled alive alongside other neglected pets, and being charged for the privilege.
This week Transport for London revealed the average temperatures for different Tube lines, headed up by the Central (average of 25.86C), Bakerloo (26.18C) and Victoria (26.7C). Toasty in winter, mental on a week like this; and that’s just the average. TfL said the heat is due to the depth and poor ventilation of tunnels. I say: just air-condition it properly, you bastards, like any decent city would — otherwise one day I will leap out through a carriage window to flip about on the platform naked, all carrot-y, until my son gently leads me away to safety. You have been warned.
Martin Robinson is a features editor