My brain’s ability to dredge up the most ancient of memories, at less than a moment’s notice and with the slightest hint has always astounded me.
I was walking along, looking at my bonsai collection, when I noticed how badly the painted wall behind them had overwintered. Considering the wall had only been painted last summer, there seemed to be an awful lot of green algae on it in more than a few places which was beyond annoying, for I hadn’t planned on doing it again this year.
One particular patch of green caught my eye, and it instantly made me think of a fish. Not just any fish, mind you but a tropical fish we had a long time ago. It was called a Silver Dollar, because that’s what it looked like. A small round silvery fish, about the size of a ten pence piece, nothing remarkable about it at all. Most of the experts called it a Poor Man’s Discus, for when it matured, it would have distinctive stripes, similar to the Discus fish.
Over the years that we had him, he proved to be quite a character. We called him Fred, and he eventually grew to the size of the palm of my hand. As he grew, he refused to share his tank with anything. He bullied every fish we put in with him, no matter how big, until they gave up and died. Plants were always uprooted and torn to shreds, and his favourite pastime was moving all the gravel from one end of the tank to the other. We regretted buying him so many times, but grew fond of him in spite of his anti- social habits.
He grew to like us too; at least that’s what we thought. Following us up and down the tank whenever we passed, making kissing shapes with his mouth. I always thought this was a sign of affection, but the way he would attack my hand whenever I tried to clean the inside of the glass would somehow deny this notion. I discovered to my cost that his dorsal fin, the one that ran along his back, contained a sharp barb which he became very adept at stabbing me with.
Despite his aggressive behaviour, he was a part of our family for many years and we were inordinately fond of him. The neighbours would enquire after his health and the children brought their schoolmates home to meet him.
He developed the habit of leaping from the water whenever I had the lid up for cleaning, which was a nightmare. He had the entire family in a panic one day when he leaped from the tank and managed to slip between the bars of the hamster cage, situated nearby. He suffered no ill effects, despite being well and truly covered in sawdust. I had to laugh, for he looked for all the world as if he had been coated in batter, ready for the frying pan.
All these memories from a small patch of algae, Who knew they were all still inside my head, just waiting to be remembered at a moment’s notice? If you consider have much we have all witnessed in our lives, just how great a filing system we must have.
Until the years catch up with us of course… So what happened to that book I couldn’t find yesterday…and my old slippers?