In the winter of 2010, I read a beautiful story called The Spellbook of Listen Taylor. It was enchanting. I say this now, although my memory of the plot and characters have severely diminished, because even after three years have passed, the magic and intrigue I felt whilst reading it still lingers in the wake of its memory.
So how does ocean bream relate to it, I hear you ask? Well, you see, it came as a frequent phrase in the book, one that caught me in it’s glittery snares and has not let me go since. One of the characters (I think it might have been a Cassie of some sort, now that I fling my memory back) was obsessed with the yearning for somebody to ask her the following question, “How is your ocean bream, my love?”
Now, given that she yearned for somebody (somebody decidedly of the male gender) to ask her such a thing, it was reasonable to expect that an ocean bream must have been something edible, because Cassie (I think) always said that her somebody would ask her this question at dinner.
I, however, chose to ignore the fact that it could be edible, because Ocean Bream is such a beautiful word, and gave way to a wide variety of surging possibilities, each pulsing with the excitable glow of blissful oblivion. So I put off looking the word up for as long as I could, even weeks after I had finished that fascinating, beautiful, delumptious book.
Finally I could bear it no longer, I prepared myself for disappointment, because throughout my literary life, I had found that nothing was quite as magical as writings made them seem. Cassie (or so I reckon) was always vague about what category of life ocean bream fit into, and all I knew was that it was something to be asked over dinner. So, I pushed my notebook aside (full of musings on the fascinating and elusive ocean bream; e.g. ‘How is your ocean bream, my love? Oh, it’s simply divine today, thank you. It’s got a strawberry trail behind it, amid gloops of shining somethings. The sunlight beams on it and it flits away leaving behind a euphoric glamour. My ocean bream is simply magical today. Or, ‘How is your ocean bream, my love?’ Not so vibrant today, actually. It’s a tad dim, but as blue as ever, shimmering with streaks of silver. Actually I think it’s yellow, sailing past my window, leaving behind a blue sky and sunshine! Why, the magic never fails, does it!’ Because, to me, ocean bream was magic in itself. The beautiful, haunting magic of fairies and pixies and delumptious godmothers who smelled of frosting and bread), switched on my computer and typed “Ocean Bream” into the search engine. Google, to be precise.
I used to think ocean bream was a magic that sailed by. I used to think it was the way sunlight dappled a mossy forest floor, or the way it twinkled between the nodding leaves of a woodland canopy, or the way it shimmered on an ocean bed, refracted and swirled by the ever moving surface of the water.
So when I discovered that it was just a fish, my mind started to work some magic of its own. And now, I reckon my favourite fish is the ocean bream. Not to eat, though. Never to eat. Ocean bream is too sacred for that.