It’s no life, being a black scabbardfish. First you’re spawned with loads of others in a cold ocean; then you live hundreds of metres beneath the surface so you grow up all slimy, black and ugly with fangs and eyes that make tourists feel a bit queasy when they see you, dead, on a slab in a market on holiday; then you’re eaten. And if you’re really unlucky, in between being killed and eaten you might be hired as a model for a photo shoot with some naked thespians.
Like the two poor chaps in this new Fishlove campaign who are pictured being held aloft like oily bondage ropes by a thrilled, nude Emma Thompson while her hirsute husband cradles their nether regions dangerously close to his own. Also in the series – whose creative vision can be summed up as “some quite famous people use fish as clothes” – is Mark Rylance, buttocks turned toward the lens with a smooth-hound shark draped over his shoulder like a natty silk scarf. “I felt I was holding a very old being. Our skins were very different. Mine smooth and soft, hers like sandpaper.” She’s dead, mate.
There’s Dougray Scott holding a pomfret not quite where his sporran should be, there’s Jodhi May in the throes of passion with a swordfish, and, best of all, there’s Miriam Margolyes, captured from the bosom up with her index finger inserted into the gill of a large John Dory, a turn of events which has made her hair stand on end. “It was very uncomfortable and the spikes on the fish tore my skin but if these photos make people aware of our responsibilities to the next generation - to conserve fish stocks - then it’s worthwhile,” she said. Pride of Britain award to Miriam.
There is a purpose hiding somewhere behind the fishy flesh flashing and it’s not a campaign for more diversity in the acting industry – roles for rays, parts for pikes and so on. It’s about fish stocks and urging people to eat less popular fish than, say, tuna and cod, by first draping them over the bodies of celebrities. “Ooh, Mahi Mahi, I saw one being hugged by ballet dancer Gary Avis once, I’ll have that,” said no-one in a restaurant ever. You might think it a bit odd to use dead fish as props for light marine erotica given the cause but that’s Fishlove. “You do feel a bit guilty holding a dead fish while you are very much alive,” said Thompson. Well yes.
The thing is, it’s not hard to persuade famous people to take their clothes off for a cause. PETA have been doing it for years. Random as the collection of faces in Fishlove is, I can’t believe that the one thing they have in common is a concern for cod. As for the message, David Attenborough has probably done more than anyone in the UK to raise awareness of the world’s endangered species, and I’ve never once seen him wearing an eel codpiece.
Service most certainly includes doggy bags
Some people judge restaurants on the tenderness of their steaks, the quality of their wine lists and the elegance of their cutlery. I like to judge them on how they deal with the doggy bag moment. If at the end of the meal there is a still half a pizza, a dollop of paella or – unlikely – a wodge of sticky toffee pudding left on the plate, how should the waiter react to a polite request to take it home? Should they a) turn up their nose and refuse? Or b) whisk the plate off with a smile then return with a small foil package, in the shape of a swan if possible, filled with the food you have paid for?
Sketch went for option a. The London restaurant, which has long had airs above its culinary achievements, refused a diner a doggy bag for her risotto, citing “council rules” that say only cakes can be taken off the premises. No such rules exist. When the diner complained, the restaurant responded by cancelling a future booking she had made for her partner’s 30th birthday. When she complained again, about the high-handed treatment on Twitter, she was blocked by the restaurant.
What a dispiriting chain of events but not surprising in London where certain pockets of the restaurant scene seem to believe they exist to snub customers rather than serve them. It’s simple: if you’ve paid for the food, it’s yours. And if the restaurant doesn’t like it, simply refuse to relinquish your table until you’ve found the appetite to polish the lot off. They’ll find the tinfoil in no time.
Remember when it was ‘good to talk’?
So farewell then, the landline. BT and others could be banned from charging homeowners for landlines that they do not use when they sign up for broadband. Ed Vaizey called the charge an “analogue system in a digital world.” I know the feeling. Still, I’ve not known my home phone number since I moved to London 10 years ago. My current handset lives in the cupboard with the broadband router and only makes its presence felt by falling on my head when I get the ironing board out. I suppose this marks another end of an era - the one where you said your number when you picked up the phone, the one where you picked up the phone at all, in fact. A politer, slightly more human, age.
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