Goldfish and four other completely shit pets

OWNING a pet can be a loving, fulfilling experience that lasts for years, unless you choose from one of these utterly shit pets.


In theory these cute little rodents are fun balls of fluff that run around a wheel all day. In reality they sleep all day, hiding in nests of chewed up tissue so you can’t see them, and run around in the wheel all night, so you can’t sleep. And on top of all that, they smell.

Stick insect

Stick insects are so boring they make hamsters look as extrovert as Liberace. On the plus side they’re cheap, but ultimately you might as well just get yourself a shoebox full of twigs and leaves as you’ll get exactly the same amount of interest out of it, if not more.


The only purpose of a goldfish is as an entry-level object of grief for your kids. Their inevitably quick death and subsequent flushing down the toilet will stay with a child forever, unless you’re one of those weirdos who gets a new one and doesn’t tell them until they think they’ve got a fish that is 27 years old.


Tortoises are basically immortal, meaning you’ve given yourself a lifetime of ruinously expensive vet bills that you will have to pass on to your children when the tortoise inevitably outlives you. You can’t even let it loose in the garden in the hope that it runs away, because they’re such tedious animals they barely move.


People buy snakes under the misapprehension that it will make them seem alternative and highly attractive to the opposite sex. The truth is that your life will now revolve around defrosting dead mice on the radiator for it to eat, and no one will come to your house because they’re too scared of both it and you.

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The five topics it's safe to talk about with your parents

DO conversations with your parents always veer off into heated, toxic confrontations? Keep chats upbeat with these topics it’s safe to discuss.

The weather

Unless your Brexiter dad saw a cloud that looked like Nigel Farage, chances are the weather is a risk-free topic. The only downside is that you’ll have to listen to lengthy descriptions of the precise angle at which the rain is falling, but that’s a small price to pay for not having an argument.

What you watched on telly

If you’ve been watching different shows, you can tune out while the other party rambles on about the latest developments in their programmes. If you’ve watched the same thing, just try to grind your teeth in silence while they misinterpret the themes or sympathise with obviously evil characters.

What the neighbours have been doing

If you want to avoid an argument about whether your partner is marriage material, ask how they’re getting on with the neighbours. This creates a safe space for them to rip their neighbours to shreds for trivial wrongdoings, without you having to give a shit because you’ve never met them.

Who you ran into in Tesco

This will be exceptionally thrilling if the person is someone your parents know too, as they will be able to tell meandering stories about something only tangentially related to them. Hopefully they won’t also go on a rant about being forced to wear a mask in shops.

What you’re having for dinner

Perfect chat fodder if you’re playing for time or the conversation starts drifting towards current events, as any mention of food will invite probing questions usually reserved for the cursory mention of a potential romantic interest. If you have ethical dietary requirements, maybe omit them for the sake of diplomacy.