Finlay Adipose and the Mystery of the West Highland Fish Farm.
Updated: Sep 24
The St Valentine Day Massacre holidays were here at last, and junior sleuth Finlay Adipose and his dog detective Silver had gone to stay with Aunt Mow at her high intensity battery salmon feedlot not far from her house on the remote western seafront of western Ardnamurchan.
“Is Mr Hurt the vet here yet Aunt Mow?”
“Yes, he’s just down at the jetty logging today’s mortalities and bringing one up for tea.”
“Great! I’m going to help him. Do you think he’ll let me pick a few lice off to add to my lice tank, I’m breeding them in my bedroom?”
“I don’t know Fin, this latest batch were all doused in Imidacloprid and then they put the kettle on.”
“Yes, the Theromolicer that we hired last week to run the fish though - it heats them up and kills the lice, and a lot of my fish unfortunately. But you never know, the little lice pests reappear as if by magic so there might be a few hanging around for your mini-farm.”
“Super. Come on Silver!”
Finlay put his wellies and fleece on and headed out to find Mr Hurt.
“Hello Mr Hurt, have you finished already?”
“I’m afraid so Fin. And I’ve got some bad news for Aunt Mow.”
Back in the kitchen, Mr Hurt explained what he had found…
“All the salmon on your farm were instantly infested with lice straight after the Thermolicer treatment. Furthermore, they all have Pancreas Disease, Cardiomyopathy Syndrome, vibrio infection and an unknown skin disease which is spreading like wildfire to wild fish too. They all needed culled.”
“Oh dear”, said Aunt Mow. “It was only last week that 10,000 escaped from one pen and 28,000 died from the Hydrolicer treatment itself. Have all the lumpfish died too?”
“Yes, I’m afraid they were OK but still got hoovered up and killed anyway. It’s rotten luck. A lot of money lost there. I’ve called the mort truck company.”
“Can I go down and poke about in the mort bins Mr Hurt?” Asked Finlay.
“No need Fin, I’ve locked them all up so those lefty do-gooders don’t go snooping around and start misrepresenting our good work.”
“Come on, sit down and let Mr Hurt get on with his analysis.”
But...when Finlay went to sit down, he suddenly plunged to his hunkers...
“What just happened Aunt Mow?!”
“Ah, sorry Fin but Mr Freeman the carpenter came round to saw all the legs off the chairs in line with Brussels regulations. And he’s coming tomorrow to do the same to the table. It’s Common Market bureaucracy gone mad!”.
Later that afternoon….
“Well, that’s everything dead and gone now Mow”.
“Smashing, Do you want me to dispose of all those test carcasses you used? I could mush them up and use them to feed the next batch of smolts we get?”.
“Don’t worry, I don’t want to be any further bother. I’ll take them with me...I’ve got a one-thousand gallon tank in the back of the pickup”, said Mr Hurt.
“Okay! Goodbye Mr Hurt”, said Aunt Mow.
But at her side, Finlay was scratching his chin and appeared VERY suspicious of that last remark by Mr Hurt...
As the vet drove away, Aunt Mow had an errand for Finlay and Silver…
“Fin, while you’re at a loose end, could you pop into town and get me some more fishcakes from Mr Herring the fishmonger…?”
“Again? But I fetched you a dozen only yesterday!”
“I know Fin, but they’re so more-ish…I can’t get enough of them”.
But Jack found the fishmonger’s shop closed up…he read a note on the door…”Just popped out to see someone behind the railway station. Back in 5 Mins. Mr Herring.”
“How peculiar Silver, Mr Herring isn’t here. He’s gone to meet someone…I wonder who.”
“That’s none of your business, Finlay!”
“MISTER HERRING!” shouted Fin, aghast.
“More fishcakes for your Aunt Mow is it?”
“Yes, another dozen. She can’t get enough of them.”
“That’ll be two hundred and forty pounds please.”
“Whit?! How much?” blurted Finlay. “That’s twenty pounds per fishcake!”
“Well, my new recipe has proved so popular that I can basically charge what I want for them…so I do!” said Mr Herring, smugly.
“Hmmmm. If I’m not much mistaken there’s something fishy going on Silver. I think we should take a little detour on our way home…behind the railway station.”
“Look, Silver. In the shadows - kegs of Emamectin Benzoate, Cypermethrin, Deltamethrin, Hydrogen peroxide and Azamethiphos!”.
Is Mr Freeman coming to cut the legs off the table today Aunt Mow?”
“He is indeed Finlay. Here’s his van now.”
“Do come in Mr Freeman.” Said Aunt Mow.
“Morning Mow. Right, let’s get this table EU-compliant, shall we?”
“Haven’t you forgotten something Mr Freeman?” he probed...
“I don’t think so Finlay.”
“Well, unless I’m mistaken, this country 'took back control' on January 31st...were not in the ruddy EU anymore!!”
“PC Brown, Arrest that man!!”
Just at that, the burly figure of a policeman burst through the cottage door and whacked Mr Freeman squarely on the nose...
“Mr Freeman, I arrest you on suspicion of...”
“Not so fast PC Brown...”
Finlay jumped up and ripped the disguise from Freeman’s face...
“Mr Herring!”, they all exclaimed in unison.
“Mr Herring, I arrest you on suspicion of...”
“Not so fast PC Brown...”
Again, Finlay grabbed at the man’s face and removed yet another disguise...
“Mr Hurt, I arrest you on suspicion of...on suspicion of...erm...Finlay, what am I arresting him on suspicion of?”
“Mr Hurt, the fish vet, went from one salmon farm to another, performing unnecessary autopsies on fish, removing vestigial organs; short lengths of intestines, spleens, swim bladders and what have you. Then, disguised as Mr Freeman the carpenter, he unnecessarily sawed the legs off furniture, citing EU regulations. But what he was actually after was the sawdust!...and as Mr Herring the fishmonger, he added the sawdust to the entrails and diseased salmon carcasses and minced it up into his very more-ish fishcakes.”
“But surely that’s well within the law, Fin? Fishmongers can fill their fishcakes with anything now we’re free of the EU?”
“That’s right...cows’ eyelids, minced genitalia, rat poo...anything!”, blurted PC Brown with a vacant expression on his face.
“Not exactly anything, PC Brown. That’s a bit of an urban myth. You see, Mr Hurt was secretly overdosing the salmon with extra barrels of toxic chemicals bought from a Norwegian man behind the railway station. He was covertly exceeding statutory discharge limits set out by SEPA.”
“But the intel is that SEPA have just allowed even more of that stuff to keep salmon alive because nobody is buying it. Why was he doing it?”, added PC Brown.
“Yes, and my fish were still dying, Fin”. “It’s never enough Aunt Mow. Those poor fish don’t stand a chance, ravaged by lice and disease. Don’t you see, the dirty old git was trying to woo you - keeping your fish alive for extended periods with extra chemicals, even though they were suffering intensely. Then slipping a few gutted and skinless morts into your kitchen as a little present. Look after the spinster’s animals and she’ll look after you...if you know what I mean...wink-wink. And, at the same time, he had direct access to sell the viral-infested fish at his alter-ego fishmongers. He was also offloading them to your dope-smoking fish farm workers when you weren’t looking. No doubt they were selling them on to fishmongers in other towns. Mr Hurt had the whole thing wrapped up like a kipper”.
Aunt Mow looked amazed - “But they were the most hideously disfigured fish ever, covered in sores and all their skin was flailed off on the netting and in the kettle and other torture devices. Gosh, they even had cataract and gill disease, even chlamydia! I could have just claimed the insurance again and furloughed myself on 80% pay.”
“Yes, but he sold them as ‘skinless’ fillets in the shop, nobody ever knew. And have you seen your insurance premiums lately? They’ve skyrocketed”.
PC Brown stepped forth with the weight of the law - “Mr Hurt, I’m arresting you on suspicion of many ethically-challenged salmon torture related malfeasances; overdosing salmon, exceeding controlled toxic chemicals limits and peddling diseased and virus-ridden fish in your shop, etc.”
“So what? Everyone does THAT nowadays. And I would have got away with it if it hadn’t been for that pesky kid and his meddling canine sidekick.”
“Hmmmm...yes, you’re right I suppose. And it’s overseen and enabled by the government too. Well, in that case, I’m arresting you on suspicion of inappropriate behaviour and unwarranted sexual advances upon a lady in her advancing years. Sexism and sexual harassment continue to permeate every corner of society and we must take an active stance against it.”
“Here, here!” They all exclaimed. “Woof!”
Back at the cottage...
“Well Fin, what a day. I totally forgot about those fishcakes for our tea, do I need to ask...do you still want them?”
“You betchya Aunt Mow. Yummy. It was good to see the back of Mr Hurt because he was making inappropriate advances upon you. But as we all know, what’s a bit of excess ‘medicine’ in the water anyway? Does no harm and it doesn’t make your tasty salmon any less sustainable".
“You’re right Fin, and it was very noble of PC Brown to forget all those ideas that my salmon were in some way being mistreated. Lets celebrate with a bit of pink out the smoker shed? I’ve had it sitting in there all day, firstly soaked in a sugary fake whisky-flavoured liquor before being saturated in carcinogenic fumes for 10 hours.”
“Well, if that doesn’t flush out all the pesticides and pathogens...nothing will!”
They laughed and laughed until the sun set over Aunt Mow’s feedlot, just as the smolt boat was arriving with another million fish to fill the cages...