"The first thing you need to know about me, is that my name is not Nemo.
Man, I hate that guy.
Yes, we were in the same classes at school. Maths and Geography. He even chose the same tech class as me - ‘Underwater Animation’, I think it was. We were never really friends, and we don’t even look that much alike. But everyone thinks I’m him. What, as if every one of us has to be HIM? As if you’d find HIM here? In London? No. He’s probably set up in some enormous tank in Hollywood, complete with its own pool, bar and theatre. Last I heard, he’d pulled out of a purchase of a riverside London flat, in favour of his holiday home on the coast of Queensland. Thames too unclean, apparently.
You can’t imagine what its like, living in his shadow. I left the Reef to escape it all you know. It’s mad with tourists, tacky stalls devoted to overpriced merchandise, loony aficionados strolling around in Nemo swim wear. Teeny, tiny, ill-suited Nemo Speedo. Ten years, they’re all still mad for it. Our beautiful home, a World Heritage Site, seen from space, and what do they all want to talk about? Him. See where he was born. Where he went to school (the place, would you believe, has been renamed in his honour), his favourite hang outs, attend Q&A sessions with Marlin and even some of my old teachers.
Its not just the tourists either. My friends, neighbours, the local paper, even my family. Everyone is Nemo crazy. A small fish with a big, big story, they say. Always had a flair for acting, they claim. Nurtured by the Reef community, they boast.
And the billboard? Yeah, that was too much. JUST KEEP SWIMMING. You don’t need to tell us that, we’re fish.
This London gig was my ticket out of the madness. I didn’t think Nemo’s shadow could stretch that far. More than 9000 miles, and I still can’t evade that blooming fish. Hidden away, at the very back of the museum, darkly lit, I thought that finally I had escaped.
“Look Mummy, it’s Nemo!”
I was very wrong about that.
I love my job. I truly do. The museum is wonderful. I get to meet all kinds of people, and I’ve met some really wonderful fish here. Nico, he’s like me. He understands the difficulty that Nemo’s fame has left us with – though he is from a different part of the Reef, where the situation hasn’t escalated quite so much. We both though that here, at least, we might get some peace. Sadly, this isn’t the case – to them, we’re just Nemo. They never stop to consider that there are other clownfish out there. With our own personalities, characteristics, careers. Too blinded by his fame, his stardom, and an Academy Award, my visitors fail to see that I can be anything but Nemo. An entire species, pigeonholed by one movie.
I took this job at first to escape. I could escape again – leave the museum, and leave this beautifully clear pond – and try and outrun the shadow cast by that famous orange and white fish.
Just keep swimming.
I’ll stay though – to show our visitors that we clownfish are so much more. There’ll be no Golden Globe nominations for my work – but to me its important. To educate, and to explore with others. Come and see me some time. I’ll show you the way our water ripples, and if you’re kind enough, I may even sit in your hand. But don’t, just don’t, call me Nemo.”
The Science Museum London is home to a pond full of beautiful animated fish that respond to your movements. Find them in the Pattern Pod Gallery.