The Blue Peter Inspired Goldfish Murders

Posted on July 10, 2012

I recently posted a response to a friend of mine who had mentioned on Facebook that they were in the Blue Peter studio for something to do with the Olympic torch which is currently getting treated with more excitement than a shock return by Elvis Presley. This of course, is fair enough if you are in to Olympic torches, which I have to admit, I have slight indifference to, as it does not pay my bills or give me enough of a thrill to detract me from the fact it is fifteen degrees centigrade, the same temperature it reached on Christmas day 2011. If the Olympic torch could blow all the clouds away, I would stand on the beautiful streets of Basingstoke tomorrow and worship it like it was a God, alas, it is more likely to fizzle out in the pissing rain, so I shall stay away this time I think.

Anyway back to the Facebook post. My response to my friend was “Don’t trash the garden” and when it was seen by my son Harry, he was slightly bemused and curious of what my statement meant. It is easy to forget as we get older, how quickly the time passes, so when we Googled it, I was quite staggered to discover that this act of vandalism had taken place twenty nine years ago in November 1983, the month of my 16th Birthday. Of course at the time there were only three channels on the TV, so I can remember it being quite a major incident and if I am entirely honest, I and the majority of my peers found it exceedingly funny. Most semi-rough kids from comprehensive schools hated Blue Peter as it was specifically designed for those who brought presents for teachers and strove to become a Prefect, which, at the Hurst school, was the equivalent of being a supergrass.

As we searched through Google, what became apparent was how dramatic the producers of Blue Peter made the incident, with legendary BBC gardener, Percy Thrower, claiming that the people who carried out the dastardly act were in fact “mentally ill.” When the Blue Peter staff, including Simon Groom (not a good name for a man around kids) and Percy Thrower surveyed the scene it was like watching footage of Churchill slowly walking around the blitzed streets of the east end in the second world war. However, thankfully, there were survivors, with a few of the goldfish living through the ordeal despite oil being poured in to the pond. That was clearly was little consolation for Janet Ellis who told the story close to tears as if she was reading a small child a book. Watching the Youtube video of this event, I was quite taken aback at how sickly sweet her voice actually was. The members of Blue Peter liked to think they were the voice of the young generation, but it was little more than state controlled TV, with its only rival being Magpie on ITV or a test card on BBC2, there was nothing else to watch and at the time the incident was widely seen by teenagers a hilarious, in fact, I am sure my mother laughed as well.

Moment that shocked a nation: The trashing of the Blue Peter garden

In the weeks after this terrorist attack, all the talk was about who had carried out the atrocity and it rapidly became the 1983 version of who shot JR? No one came forward, possibly because the punishment would have been draconian, even leading to the prospect of a stretch in a youth detention centre, or if Percy Thrower got his way, Broadmoor Mental Hospital. A major development occurred in the year 2000 when England footballer Les Ferdinand came forward and admitted that he had been involved in the incident by “helping some lads over the wall” but he would not confirm or deny that Dennis Wise, another footballer, was also involved in the incident, stating “I am not at liberty to say whether Dennis Wise was involved or not.” Not realising how much bad publicity would outweigh hero status, Ferdinand distanced himself from the incident, but suspicion remains, as it does with Wise, who has always denied involvement.

I cannot fully recall whether this tragedy was the catalyst for a copycat incident that happened at the Hurst School in the same year, an incident for which I am about to make a frank and genuine apology on behalf of myself  and my mystery assistant who, for the sake of privacy, I will call Jimmy Witts. Yes, it was us who carried out the despicable chemical holocaust in the fish tank belonging to Mr Weaver, leaving several dead whilst others were left fighting for their lives in an intensive care unit carefully put together by the forlorn chemistry teacher. In fairness, we had not set out to create goldfish genocide; it was more a chemical experiment to see what happened, not dissimilar to the trials carried out by the British government on its own civil servants at Porton Down in the 1950’s. However, little were we to know that because we are a nation of  animal/goldfish lovers, our act of horror was to be treated with far more contempt than of those who conned young men in to an old air base so they could chuck acid over them before seeing how far they could get on an assault course. A SPECIAL ASSEMBLY WAS CALLED!!!!

This assembly was a few days later, so we weren’t sure what it was about, because when we had left the chemistry lesson the fish seemed to be fine, they even appeared to be enjoying themselves, flipping around like tiny dolphins and showing off by swimming upside down. Then, instead of the Headmaster, Mr Bower………….Mr Weaver took centre stage, possibly for the first and only time in his career. Uh Oh!

“I have some distressing news…….this morning I arrived in my classroom to discover seven goldfish dead and a further four that I have placed in to intensive care…..somewhere in this room there is a sick individual or individual,  who have carried out this attack and I intend to find out who it is.”

Fucking Hell, I felt like one of the Birmingham Six (except I was guilty) and by the way he delivered his emotional speech, I really did think that I was in huge trouble. I felt like a murder suspect and in a way, I guess I was. The whispering soon started and though it was assumed that it was Jimmy and I who were guilty, Mr Weaver was struggling to come up with the forensic evidence to nail us. I tried to keep a cool head and even discussed with Jimmy that an admission to manslaughter and not murder, may get us off with a lighter sentence ( I saw it on The Sweeney)  but Jimmy was adamant we stuck with  an out and out denial….. We couldn’t crack up now, Jimmy had recently been punched in the face by Mr Trussle the pottery teacher, he wasn’t in the mood for more violence.

The pivotal moment came when we were both interrogated separately…… “I KNOW YOU KILLED THE GOLDFISH LETHABY…….JUST OWN UP AND WE CAN DEAL WITH THIS.” I stuck with the plan and so did Jimmy and despite various prefects stepping forward for their day in the sun as key witnesses, the case fizzled out. We were free men…or boys as the case was.

So if you are still alive Mr Weaver, it was me, though judging by the ongoing persecution Jimmy and I received from the perennially detestable Mr Boyd, I guess you already knew that.

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