“Yes indeed!” you might be thinking. “That sounds like a pretty desperate adventure or trip up the Amazon or into the Congo!”
Well let me assure you that you need go no further than a ten mile radius of my home to get to the bottom of this desperate and confusing saga. It nullifies the belief that little happens in leafy suburbia, for this is a tale of dreadful savagery, loss of loved ones and a brief venture into a world well outside mine and Da Boss’s comfort zones!
The last few months have been an almost daily battle between Da Boss and myself over our pond. There have been moments where I have even considered hiring a digger or dump truck and filling the damned thing in with several tons of topsoil. But then I recall the last time I filled it in several decades ago, and the subsequent battles I had with the new swamp I had inadvertently built!
I shall not bore you with the endless saga of pond pumps, replacements, electrical shenanigans, continual filtering, removal of sludge and all the myriad efforts to get the pond sparkling clean. Let us brush that all to one side and simply acknowledge that FINALLY the pond was in pretty good nick. Clean and sparkling water, happy fish that swam up as soon as they saw you coming with food for them. Basically life, pond wise, was good!
So it was with some surprise that coming home just the other day I was met by Da Boss with a troubled look in her eye.
“You’d better come and have a look at the pond!”
“What, it was fine when I left,” I began defensively.
“Just come and have a look for yourself,” she continued. “Then you’ll know what to do.”
I hurried through to the back and strode over to the pond; surely the pump had not stopped working already. I peered at the water.
“Well? What exactly is the matter?”
“Where are the fish?”
I stared at Da Boss as if she was slightly mad. The fish were where they always were – in the blasted water. Did she think they had suddenly grown wings and taken up new roosting spots in the hedges and trees?
I looked back at the pond – and noted the distinct lack of movement anywhere. She was right; the fish had done a runner! Where the heck were they?
Which was when I discovered that we had been burgled, by that ace fish snatcher, a bloody Heron! That b*****d had spotted my super sparkling pond and had come down and scoffed all my fish. Not one had escaped his evil beak.
I swore. And when I say that, I mean that I let forth a blistering barrage of oaths that would have scorched the covers of any dictionary of curses and general bad language. What I was going to do with that bloody bird when I caught up with it would have made an interrogator at Abu Graibh flinch in horror. And I meant every darned word of it too.
Some of those fish were seven years old; in fact one was closer to twelve years old, it was almost family for God’s sake! And now all they were was some bloody Heron’s lunch! The greedy b*****d had swooped down and simply tucked into my fish without a second thought. Worse than that it was almost certainly all down to Da Boss’s insistence on having a crystal clear pond in the first place!
Not only that, but Da Boss was now starting to wail about her poor fish! What a cheek. All the time they had been there, happily grazing on bits of weed and generally being happy fish, she only ever went on about how things needed improving. NOW, thanks to her insistence on all the improvements the fish were GONE! It was enough to make a person spit!
I finally simmered down enough to think about how life was going to go on. Apart from anything else I was damned if I was going to let a heron dictate to me whether or not I had fishy friends – and, besides which, I had just spent a small fortune on pumps and fountains and filters, so there was no way the heron was going to be the winner.
Naturally Da Boss was typically supportive. Her comments about handy hiding places for fish and so on might have made someone else mutter about being wise AFTER the event, but I said nothing. I even tolerated all her comments about the need to protect any future fishy friends.
I didn’t even mention the fact that she was an accessory to that murderous bloody heron, with all her insistence on sparkly shiny ponds. After all when you have a pond shimmering and glistening like a beacon to the entire heron population it is no small wonder that they had been queuing up to take their turn at the handy fish snackery in our back garden!
Instead we headed off to where we had bought our last lot of fish – admittedly some seven years back, but hey they clearly had healthy fish for sale. Well they used to have them, but had stopped stocking outdoor fish some while ago, because all the local people had got fed up with daily visits from the local herons.
Amazingly though, the woman in the shop looked quite pleased at our sad story.
“If you like, you could have mine,” she said. ‘We don’t have time for them now and have been looking for a new home for them. Let me ring my husband to see if they are still available!”
I could hardly believe my luck. Here we were – just hours after being wiped out by a thieving heron, about to replenish our pond with a mixture of new fish that were in need of a new home. We arranged to call at their house – the owners’ not the fish – later that evening.
What a result, Triumph from adversity and all that. Clearly there was a friendly God looking down on us. The only slight cloud on the horizon was the address we had been given. It was deep in an estate that had a less than stellar reputation. I am perhaps not quite reflecting the nature of the estate. Basically it is host to around fifty percent of the criminals in the area and has on occasion been described as somewhere that would best be improved by a solid week of carpet-bombing.
I will tell you more of our adventures in the next instalment!