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Country notebook

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: September 05, 2012

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The rag and bone man came along the street bawling, "rags", and something else I never did find out what. My brother and I used to grab some outgrown clothing for him and in return would receive a penny. One day instead of coins he was giving goldfish. All we needed was a jam jar of water and he would plop a fish into it.

My mother groaned. "More clutter. Put them on the kitchen windowsill, and don't drop water all over the place."

Dad took one look at them and was horrified. "You can't keep fish like that, they've hardly enough room to swish a tail." Straight away he went around measuring pictures.

"What's he up to now?" asked mum suspiciously.

"A fish tank," said dad. He found a piece of wood to form a base, then the glass from the pictures neatly cut for sides, wooden corner supports, reinforced with putty. Neat job. Clever dad. We filled it with water, added pebbles and plants and the fish swam around happily. The tank was put on the sideboard in the front room, a place of honour. We were elated.

One morning when we were getting up we heard a strange noise and, running downstairs found a glass side on the mat, water swishing on to the floor and two writhing fish. The fish were quickly put into the washing up bowl and the tank dumped in the back garden. Grandad gave us an empty sweet jar from the shop as a new home for the fish – then it was put on to the kitchen window sill, and right away dad started replacing glass in those pictures.

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