There was a time when one could go to a funfair and, without too much skill, effort or cost, win a goldfish or two then carry them home in a plastic bag. Invariably they’d die after a few days. That was that. No thought was given as to the mental state of the winner: their capacity for looking after another living creature or the likelihood that they’d prepared a suitable living environment for said fish. Of course not. One doesn’t buy a goldfish bowl then set out to win fish to live in it. It was well after my own childhood that the law stepped in to protect the lives of the humble goldfish and their pond-dwelling cousins from mistreatment or neglect. Its been decades since I’d even considered having a goldfish but something changed a few weeks ago that has now enhanced my feeling of well-being and the increased pleasure I have from simply being in my own garden. I have built a pond. I’d been walking someone’s dog in Wilbarston (part of my exercise regime) when I noticed a large black moulded pond that had been placed against a fence as the rest of a garden was being re landscaped. The dog’s owner was moving to America with his family, including the dog, and they wanted the garden to be somewhat low maintenance for any new tenant. I just happened to mention that I’d always wanted a pond but had never made the effort to invest, both time and money, into such a beast. “You can have that one if you like” said the man. “We were only going to either throw it away or advertise it for free”. Without a second thought I’d decided that this was going to be my pond. Sorry, ‘our’ pond.
I’d arranged for a friend with a van to collect the not too unsubstantial pre fabricated form for delivery to our home. It was so big that the driver had to carefully negotiate his drive with the back doors wide apart and the pond sticking out the back. Carefully secured I might add. Digging the hole wasn’t as bad as I’d anticipated though getting the bottom of the hole level was a tad tricky. Anyway, I filled it with water, put some stones and gravel around the edges and fitted a pump to oxygenate the water. There was one thing missing: fish. Off I trotted to my local pet store to find a few bog-standard fish to grace the magnificence of my new erection. I thought it would be a simple process but no, things have changed. “Is this a new pond?” “Yes”. “Has the water been well oxygenated?” “Yes, I think so. Can I have five or six fish?” “No, I can let you have three, once you’ve signed this form with your postcode and name. It’s a declaration for the protection of the fish”. Wow, how different was that from the days of the old fairground. I’ve named them all.