A goldfish named Harold has set in train a controversy, by telling its owner, Mimsie Flopdangler, aged seven, of Trubshaw Crescent, Yarmouth, that people should leave fish, particularly goldfish, alone, and eat Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.
Mimsie had watched an episode of Fish Fight, a popular TV programme for bounders and blaggards, along with her family. In the episode in question - it must have been that episode, for how could it have been another? - Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall had urged viewers to eat more goldfish in order to enable the dwindling stocks of offshore cods, haddocks and plaices to replenish themselves so that they could then, at some future date (not a past date, because those are already taken), be eaten and eaten until they dwindle once again, affording another excellent opportunity for people like Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall to make more TV programmes.
It is the offshore stocks that have dwindled, even as onshore numbers have risen highly - a point not lost on Mr Fearnley-Whittingstall in the episode in question. Indeed, he was heard, by Mimsie and her family, to say, as he skinned a live lamprey over a bath containing 23 gallons of ewe's milk and his wife from France, that "it is the offshore stocks of these fishes that have dwindled so, even as their onshore numbers have registered a growth that is almost equivalent".
Later, as he slaughtered a locally-reared mole over a feather bed containing a sheep's head and his wife from France, Fearnley-Whittingstall was heard, by Mimsie and her family, to utter "so I think we ought to eat more of these goldfish; they are easy to come by and, especially coated in locally-grown puff pastries and seared in a locally-sourced pan on a locally-procured stove by a locally-employed Victorian-style yeoman cook, they are delicious and nutritious: just the thing for an aristocratic hobby-farmer like myself, my wife from France and my free-loading village friends looking for another gratis feast."
After the programme had finished, it was time for Mimsie to go to bed. In a effort to wake her parents up so that she could say goodnight, Mimsie said in a loud voice:
"Harold just told me that Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall is a pretentious twerp and that we shouldn't listen to him because he is a twit with hare-brained ideas and nothing else to do but make silly programmes. Harold says that we shouldn't eat goldfish. We should eat Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall instead because he's a stupid idiotic fat git."
Mimsie's mother, Tittie Flopdangler, also of Trubshaw Crescent, Yarmouth (it is a good thing that they live together, for how could they have these discussions otherwise?), said "Oh Mimsie, you have woken me up, bad girl!"
She also said, once the import of Mimsie's statement had registered in her mind, "Really, Mimse. You are just saying that because you don't want us to eat Harold the goldfish. You know that your Daddy and I love Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and would never stoop to obeying the whimsical, ad hoc, commands of a goldfish and eating our TV hero.
"Stop trying to get our attention and get to bed like a good girl our Mimse."
But what Tittie Flopdangler might have told her daughter in this typical familial power-struggle does not foreclose our unspoken question. Nor does it douse the fire of mystery contained within the above statement of young Mimsie Flopdangler.
Neither does it answer this query:
Was the bubbling in the bowl housing Harold that was observed by Mimsie as she wended her weary way up the wooden stairs to Bedfordshire that evening a mere random chemical event? Or was it a token of the militant indignation of a goldfish who had said his piece only to be ignored by those who held the power in the Flopdangler household?
The kernel of our mystery thus remains unmolested.
Harold has refused to comment further, unlike Mimsie, who will not shut up about it.