End of the line
August 4, 2009 12:06 PM   Subscribe

RIP Benson The Carp, 'the people's fish'... yes, it's the Silly Season again.
posted by fearfulsymmetry (12 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

or maybe ° (that's a bubble)
posted by wendell at 12:08 PM on August 4, 2009

In many languages, the silly season is called "cucumber time" or similar. In Finland and Sweeden, it is "rotting-month story."

Interesting that so many countries are plagued by slow news in the late summer months.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:11 PM on August 4, 2009

I read about him this morning. My first though was, wow, he's been caught, hauled out of the water and manhandled around over 60 times. He probably bought the nuts himself.
posted by permafrost at 12:12 PM on August 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

Bridgefoot said Benson undoubtedly has offspring in the lake, adding somewhat wistfully that it would be a long time before any of them reached their mother's size.

Today she is sitting in a deep freeze waiting to be mounted...

You gotta admire her persistence.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 12:26 PM on August 4, 2009

It causes me physical pain that in a time when we've never needed journalists and journalism more, that there's not only such a thing as a "silly season" but that it's entirely acceptable, the expected course of events.

Honestly, it's no wonder newspapers are dying if this is the best they can do when they're not being spoonfed.
posted by mhoye at 1:02 PM on August 4, 2009

posted by carpographer at 2:01 PM on August 4, 2009

It causes me physical pain that in a time when we've never needed journalists and journalism more, that there's not only such a thing as a "silly season" but that it's entirely acceptable, the expected course of events.

Bah. Eh. And other grunty noises. We've never needed holidays more, and people (including writers and the people they write about) tend to take their holidays when the weather is lovely and it's too warm to work. Politicians in the UK and US (and elsewhere?) vacate in August. The silly season is a result of having fewer new things to write about as much as it is a result of having all the senior writers out at the beach or cottage. And if something happens big enough to make it worth coming back early, you can be sure the big shot writers will come back early and get to work. Meanwhile, junior writers who don't get their vacation yet are practicing with stories about fish. Poor fish. Snagged 65 times and now someone's dinner.
posted by pracowity at 2:37 PM on August 4, 2009

Can we put aside the bickering and sarcasm. A great carp has died! Show some respect!
posted by zaelic at 2:33 AM on August 5, 2009

Was chatting to my old man about this, he was most amused by a news report I missed where the interviewed the lake owner proudly showing off 'the house what Benson built'
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 11:52 AM on August 5, 2009

posted by chairface at 8:16 PM on August 5, 2009

This whole silly story has been totally redeemed by the Economist obituary:

In her glory days she reminded some of Marilyn Monroe, others of Raquel Welch. She was lither than either as she cruised through the water-weed, a lazy twist of gold. Her gleaming scales, said one fan, were as perfect as if they had been painted on. Some wag had named her after a small black hole in her dorsal fin which looked, to him, like a cigarette burn. It was as beautiful and distinctive as a mole on an 18th-century belle. Her lips were full, sultry or sulking, her expression unblinking; she seldom smiled. Yet the reeds held fond memories of her friend Hedges, her companion in slinky swimming until she, or he, was carried away in 1998 by the waters of the River Nene.

Abandoned, she ate more. She devoured everything. Worms, plankton, crayfish, lily roots, disappeared down her toothed, capacious throat. She was a one-fish Hoover, motoring through the food-packed sludge and through rich layers of sedimentary smells. But she was offered daintier and more exotic fare. Cubes of cheese, scraps of luncheon meat, bread crusts, Peperami, dog biscuits and tutti-frutti balls all came down invitingly through the water. She sampled most of them.

Of course, she was not fool enough to think they came from heaven. Carp are cunning, a very fox of the river, as Izaak Walton said. She could see the lines, and at the end of them the trembling shadows of Bert, or Mike, or Stan, spending an idle Sunday away from the wife with a brolly and a can of beer. Often she continued to lurk, roiling the mud to conceal herself and basking in her own scaled beauty, as carp will. On hot days she would rise to the surface, glowing and tantalising, with a lily-leaf shading her like a parasol. She played hard to get, or the One That Got Away, nudging the line before drifting down towards the dark serene. But then, just for the hell of it, she would take the bait.

The first hookings hurt like hell, the whole weight of her body tearing her tongue like a razor blade. But over the years she got used to it, and her leathery mouth would seize the bait as a prize. Hauled to the limelight, she was admirably unphased. This was, after all, the homage beauty was owed. She would submit to the scales and then pose for the photographer, unmoving, holding her breath. She had her picture taken with Tony, owner of her lake, who confessed to the Wall Street Journal that he had 'quite a rapport' with her; with Ray, who caught her at two in the morning, disturbing her beauty sleep; with Matt, of the shy smile and the woolly hat; with bearded Kyle, for whom she looked especially dark and pouting; and with Steve, who ungallantly told Peterborough Today that she felt like a 'sack of potatoes' and was 'available to everyone'. She was not, but at least 50 others held her, or gripped her, for a moment or so. Uncomplainingly, she nestled in their arms before she was lowered to her element again.

These men had a knowledgeable air about them. They might have been a secret society, meeting at odd hours in hidden nooks around the lake. Each had his spot for anoracked meditation. When they spoke, it was of wagglers and clips, spods and backbiters, size 14s and number 8 elastic. Dates and weights were bandied about, an arcane code. For a while, Benson imbibed the philosophy of a gaudier and more complex sphere, heard the tinny music of their radios and stared into the dazzle of the day. There was much that she herself might have imparted, of the mystery of reflected and inverted things. But her anglers needed to get home to the football and their tea.

posted by verstegan at 5:57 AM on August 20, 2009 [1 favorite]

And just when you thought the silly season is over... Piranha!
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 4:01 AM on August 29, 2009

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