|A big hole filled with water, a compound of Hydrogen and Oxygen from which all life on earth emerged|
recall that last year I apparently took leave of my senses, brought in a
massive digger at not inconsiderable expense and consumed a quarter of my
plot by excavating a bloody great big hole.
I could not
describe Marcia’s reaction as magnanimous.
God, however, was beneficent and filled the hole with fresh, clean
My pond was
so pleased with me for bringing it into existence; it gave me a big wet hug (oh
alright, I fell in).
|As a means to wash Dhobi, the pond has its drawbacks|
and I mean everyone who laid eyes on this wonderful example of landscape engineering
said I was mad as a hatter.
earth,’ they exclaimed, ‘would I use up a third of my expensive real estate by
digging a hole?’
looked so crestfallen, they comforted her.
They assured her there was no shame in discovering her husband was a
mental case. They told her about the
psychiatric treatment available for people like me which consisted of
handcuffing the patient to a manhole cover and leaving them under a very hot
sun until they came to their senses. Occasional
beatings would be necessary, they informed her sympathetically before reminding
her that sometimes, especially when dealing with a man bereft of his senses,
one has to be cruel to be kind.
are you going to do with it?’ Marcia had demanded back then.
‘I am going
to stock it with fish’, I informed her.
appreciate the reaction, you have to understand that the pond is two hundred
yards from the Atlantic Ocean and fifty yards from the second largest river in
Angola, both of which, no-one could deny, were pretty full of fish so why couldn't Icatch them there?
those fish aren’t mine,’ I said, ‘I want to catch and eat my own fish’
brother, commendably concerned about his sister’s future welfare, asked her if
he shouldn’t take me down there and then.
Apparently he had a tow rope in the back of his car that would either serve
to restrain me or whip me back to my senses.
I live in a
poverty stricken fishing village full of expert fishermen so, if they're so clever and aren’t all rich, their advice was a mystery to me.
will live in that’, they said.
constant flow, there won’t be enough oxygen’
I had a
couple of advantages over these people.
Firstly, I had seen ponds of a similar size all over Europe that were
thriving eco-systems well worth fishing and, secondly, as an alcoholic recluse
I could not give a flying toss what they thought. I was, therefore, arrogantly immune to
Africa, I have had to give up so many things a Gentleman takes for
granted. Pubs serving an honest pint of
real ale. Wine that doesn’t taste like
vinegar. Romeo y Juliettas. Branston pickle. Effective medical
services. Dry Cleaners that don’t melt suits. Litter free and, God forbid, tarmacked streets. Rye bread.
Butter. Vegetables. 7.65mm ammunition to end my miserable existence. Camembert cheese. Horseradish sauce, English mustard. Carr’s
water biscuits. Patum Peperium. Thick cut orange marmalade. Melton Mowbray pork
I think you have a general idea of what I want for Christmas but I was only joking about the ammunition. I have a drawer full of it. The trouble is that when I am deep in my cups and have a go at shuffling myself off this mortal coil, I am too pissed to shoot straight and keep missing. I have a couple of extra and pretty permanent partings and Marcia is ever so angry about all the holes in the walls.
I have to
fly fish, though. That’s why I dug my
pond. I blame George. His beautifully photographed excursions along
England’s rivers reminded me of just how relaxing fly fishing is as a pastime
and God knows I need to relax. I cannot remember the last time I enjoyed untroubled sleep.
I paid the
kids with biscuits and such. Bring me a
bucket of live fishlings out of the river and you’d get a packet of genuine Middle
Eastern Halal Jammy Dodgers or Kosher pork scratchings in exchange. Try as I might, I couldn’t catch anything
with the circular weighted nets they use here so I lent mine to them and they
caught loads. So in addition to packets
of this and that, I gave them Coca-Cola and Fanta as well.
I dug the
pond a year ago. Two months ago (unable
to sleep), I went for a walk to the pond at around four in the morning and
discovered a local netting it. These
were the same sarcastic bastards who said it would never work and now here they
were poaching my pond. I wasn’t best
pleased but have learnt from the ashtray incident so left no marks on his body
and he hasn’t come back to me to reclaim his net.
I am not an
eco-warrior or a marine biologist so I really have no idea what I am doing,
putting my trust in Nature instead. All
I do know is that if you want Nature to work her mysterious ways, let her get
on with it without interference. So for
a year I have been stocking and guarding the pond, not letting anyone take
anything out of it. I knew I needed to
establish a breeding population so that the recently created system would be self-sustaining. I trawled plants out of the river and
introduced them to the pond to provide a more natural habitat. I let the grass and other vegetation grow
around the banks. I was pleased to see
Kingfishers hovering over it.
the other morning, I was sitting in the Lappa and I saw a Fish Eagle dive and scoot
low over the water trailing its talons creating a V shaped ripple across the
surface before soaring away clutching a fish.
So when Marcia came home and said that because she had been delayed at
the bank and had been unable to go shopping, there was nothing for tea, I said,
‘No matter, how do you fancy fresh fish?’
fish?’ she exclaimed, ‘Where are you going to buy fresh fish at this time of
I sensed a
degree of skepticism but I have always been a little sensitive by nature.
‘I am not
going to buy the fish, my Darling, I am going to catch them’
Now I was
sensing derision. I can take derision in
the work place or a bar, it isn’t anything a quick smack in the mouth can’t
resolve but we’re talking about my wife here so I was pretty bloody crushed.
thing that wives do so well and unconscious derisionists don’t, is dig the
up some beans and rice’, she informed me with ill-disguised impatience.
You have to
excuse her. I know, as I suspect many of
you dear readers know as well, what it is like to come home after a hard day’s
travail to a cold kitchen. But I honestly
thought she would bring with her the ingredients I needed to prepare a
delightfully romantic dinner for two (two and half, Alex including Alex) so, as all good husbands would do, I pulled out my rod determined to
it is over seven foot of telescopic whippy yet permanently stiff carbon fibre,
I was chastened to say the least when I trudged through the countryside toward
the banks of my pond. The ever loyal Charlie,
my dog, dogged my heels and made a nuisance of himself, barking joyously at
shadows, of which there were many.
couple of disconsolate casts, I was delighted when Alex appeared clutching a
plastic bag containing a few cold beers for me and a couple of stims for
him. You see? She may think I am mad but Marcia still loves
‘Can I have
a go Daddy? Pleeeze?’
fill yer boots’, I said handing him the rod before knocking the top off of a
the rod up! You’ve got one!’
rod up and just reel it in gently,’ I advised him.
fun, Daddy!’ he said as we landed the fish, ‘Can we do it again?’
‘Oh yes!’ I
said badly in need of some marital bliss, 'Just do whatever you did again!'
did. Twice more in the time it took me
to finish another beer.
fish do we need, Alex?’ I asked him, selfishly keen for both food and nuptials.
five, three, ten!’ he said, counting all three.
want to show these to Marcia?’ I asked him. ‘Shall we give these fish to Marcia
to fry up for dinner? Do you think that
one fish for you, one for Marcia and one for me is enough? That’s three fish. One, two, three!’
three,’ he repeated, counting out the haul. ‘One each!’ he suddenly exclaimed
demonstrating a greater mastery of division than addition.
something special about catching your own dinner and I could see that Alex
couldn’t wait to show his Mummy what he had caught.
these tonight, Daddy?’ he kept asking me as we made our way back.
we eat these tonight, with rice and beans I guess. Are you sure you don't want me to help you carry the fish?' I asked him noticing them slipping out of his grasp every two paces to end up floundering in the dirt.
'I can do it, Daddy!'
'I know you can, son. Look, you've got more fingers than I have, just stuff one finger each into the gills of the fish and they aren't going anywhere.'
want gindungo (the local hot pepper sauce)’ he told me after we had covered a few more paces thus, ‘I want tomato ketchup’
ketchup sounds good to me,’ I told him as I stumbled along after him.
Bugger me, the fish hadn’t even stopped flapping, yet he was busy
deciding just how he was going to eat them.
has ever rented plant knows that the day rate, along with the relocation, is
eyewatering but it was worth every penny to see the expression on Alex’s face
as he handed these three fish over to his mother.
Four years old and he’s already put food on the table. Fish caught in his Mad Dad's pond.
|That's a battered old 12" pan and not a bad fish supper..|
If I haul out 2,997 more of these, I might just break even.