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Meanwhile, Alison's been investigating modern trends in advertising, and for the first time we've felt the need to censor a picture before printing it in Plokta. See if you can spot how.

[Webmaster's note: In an attempt to stop Evil Corporate Lawyers from websearching this page and sending us Cease-and-Desist notices (as has already happened once to Plokta Online; this is not just paranoia), the name of a certain large corporation has had a couple of its vowels replaced with asterisks throughout.]

The Secret Life of Captain B*rds Ey*

Imagine a life without frozen foods. Not a pleasant thought, is it? None of this staggering in from the pub and shoving a ready meal in the oven, or wrapping up leftover portions of food and sticking them in the freezer. And how would Terence Conran manage without McCain's frozen chips?

Cl*r*nce B*rds*ye We owe it all to this man. Cl*r*nce B*rds*ye was a mild mannered food scientist who devoted his life to making millions selling frozen food. He discovered that all sorts of food could remain palatable after freezing, as long as it was frozen very quickly when fresh. His initial experiments were with vegetables, and in the US B*rds Ey* Frozen Foods sell vegetables and nothing else.

But the pinnacle of his art du frigidaire was the fish finger. Some readers may not know what a fish finger is. Well, as practised by Captain B*rds*ye, it's a stick of reconstituted cod, covered in orange breadcrumbs and sold in large packets ready to be shallow-fried by the same sorts of housewives that reckon that Beanz Meanz H*inz. If you buy cheaper fish fingers, you cannot be sure that they will contain cod, or indeed any substantial quantity of fish at all. They may instead consist of genetically modified soya, cereal fillers and artificial cod flavouring.

Battered fish bits don't just come in finger shapes. You can also get "cod bites", which if true would make me worried about putting them on my plate. Cod bites came into being because B*rds Ey* weren't at all sure of the wisdom of marketing "cod pieces". You can also get cod formed into useful shapes such as whales, dolphins and dinosaurs.

These last would have been jolly useful for a friend of mine, who has a phobia about fish. He can't eat fish, or anything that looks like a fish, such as goldfish crackers. He won't swim in the sea because there might be f.f.f.f..things swimming in it. Even talking about fish winds him up substantially - he's not planning to go on one of those courses where they force you to confront your phobias any time soon. He can however, eat things that are made of fish but don't look like fish. Such as fish fingers, cod bites and crispy fishy dinosaurs. But I digress. At any rate, all these assorted reformed fish products have for many years been advertised by Captain B*rds Ey*.

Captain B*rds*ye Perhaps marginally more butch than Clarence himself, the good Captain was clearly Clarence B*rds*ye's seagoing alter ego. His friendly face twinkled as he inveigled small children to join him on his cruises. "Would you like to come fish fingering with me, little girl?" Oh, how happy they were to discover that he'd netted a haul of fresh cod bites for tea!

For it would not do, of course, to suggest to impressionable youth that fish fingers had anything to do with fish. Oh, no. Fish fingers came out of packets, and were entirely sanitised for young eaters. Actually catching fish on Captain B*rds Ey*'s trawler would have been a terrible error of judgement. All that flapping, drowning, silvery fish flesh, with a side order of gutting. Captain B*rds Ey* would never let something so unpleasant disturb the delights of his ocean-going advertisements. And always at the end a tasty B*rds Ey* product, in case you were feeling peckish.

So imagine my horror when I discovered that Captain B*rds Ey* had been overhauled. The kindly old captain had been pensioned off, along with his kindly old boat, and in his place we have a newer, younger model with a state-of-the-art air and sea fishfingermobile, complete with the registration number COD1. The reformed Captain appears to be an ocean-going equivalent of the Milk Tray man, rescuing innocent fish from a fate worse than death, and then battering them. Mind you, I'm not sure I want to wake up to find a box of fish fingers thawing on my pillow.

So what's the new Captain like? Gone is the friendly twinkle, and gone is the white beard.

Captain B*rds*ye Mark 2 And what do you have instead? The kindly beard has been replaced by designer stubble, and the friendly twinkle has been replaced with a come hither look. The new captain seems aimed fairly and squarely at the bored mums who buy fish fingers rather than the bored children who eat them. I'd certainly wouldn't mind trying his crispy codpieces sometime.

But I'm not so sure he'd be interested. The good captain wears his uniform in a deliberately unkempt way. His designer stubble must be hell to maintain on that trawler, and isn't that an earring he's wearing? In fact, he seemed pretty familiar to me - I reckon he's just walked out of a picture by Tom of Finland. I just want to know where his fish fingers have been.

Captain B*rds*ye by Tom of Finland
Is that a crispy jumbo fish finger in your pocket or are you just pleased to see me?

-- Alison Scott

If you're a Vegrant
It's doubtless a lot of fun.
We did not connect.

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