In memory of Bet

She never lived to experience the new water feature in the pond, which makes me sad. She would’ve liked it, she always enjoyed a shower under the old one…

Bet Lynch

Bet Lynch

Bet was one of our first goldfish. Brought home in a plastic bag with 16 others and placed proudly in the brand-spanking new pond that we had dug out with our own hands. We called her ‘Bet’ after Bet Lynch, the brassy barmaid from Coronation Street (see pic), because she was a white goldfish with just a smudge of bright red, much the colour of her namesakes lipstick, across her mouth (actually, when I looked for a pic, I was struck by just how much like her she looked – Bet Lynch’s hair looks positively scaley).

I named them all at the time, and many since, but now we have some sixty fish it is a bit hard to keep up. But I’ve still got Bob, who has red eyes and looks like he’s been on an overnighter; Squiffy, who’s got a dodgy mouth; sixpence, who’s only got one red eye so is half of bob (you have to be a certain age for that one!); Alice, who appears to be wearing a dotty headband; Jaffa, who’s scales look like orange peel; Bullet, who’s head is a bit of a strange ermm bullet shape; Big Red, who’s got a big red patch on his head; Splosh, who looks like he’s been dripped on with red paint, ….well, you get the picture..

Yes, sixty odd fish, in our little pond, interbred and jostling for position. We never meant to have sixty fish. Seventeen seemed about right. But they would breed, and now it is a tad overcrowded. But they seem ok. As indeed, do the frogs and toads that co-habit with them.

Damselfly

Damselfly

When we built the pond and brought those little fishes home we had no idea of the pleasure (or the stress) that having that little microworld would bring. I can spend hours just gazing into the water watching the fish busily going about their business, the waterboatmen skidding about over the surface, and the huge, exotic, damselflies swooping down for a sip of water. We worry endlessly about the clarity and condition of the water, whether or not the pump is blocked, whether it’s leaking, and we spend god knows how much hard earned dosh on different types of bacteria to keep the water balance right.

Now, the landscapers have changed it’s shape, from being hexagonal it is now circular, and in the process they managed to make a hole in the lining – fortunately only quite near the top. However, it let enough water out for our Bet to get stranded, and we found her lying caught in one of the plants, above the water on Saturday. Poor Bet, not a nice end.

We buried her, wrapped in a paper towel shroud, in the front garden (we’ve no longer any room for a goldfish burial ground in the back – the men haven’t mentioned finding any remains but there have been many burials over the years, not only of fish, but all the other small friends we once had too…mice and hamsters who died with what seemed quite alarming regularity).

Anyhow, our original little ‘Heath Robinson’ waterfall has today been replaced by a cascade around the pond’s entire circumference. And as I type I can see them laying paving slabs around it. From a distance it looks more formal. But don’t be fooled. That little microworld will still be the same. A playground for the fish and wildlife, and a beautiful distraction from the real world for us.

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