I love to watch fish swim. I find it calming. They move so gracefully. There are no sharp corners or emergency stops and they all seem to anticipate everyone else's moves in a way that I rarely see in humans.
Obviously my preferred method of fish watching is to be in a tropical ocean with them but in the absence of that an aquarium or even a fish tank will do. I recently saw the most beautiful one. It was in a hotel lobby, huge and blue and teaming with fish and coral. Breathtaking.
So when my friend said she was getting some goldfish recently I was interested. A large bowl appeared in her kitchen and then two elegant fish made it their home. I watched them swim in and out of the weed as I drank my tea.
The next time I visited, the bowl had been ungraded. The lucky fish now had an orb complete with bubble tube, heater ( should future inhabitants hail from sunnier climes) and a light. Now I wanted one. It looked so beautiful.
I told the children about my tropical fish tank plan at teatime. We've been here before. When the builders ripped my home apart, I was desperate to build a tank in somewhere but, practicality fighting dream, let the idea hit the cutting room floor with so many others. But the children were not deterred by my track record and we spent an entertaining meal discussing how and where and how many and suitable names.
The next day I was on a course. I felt my bag vibrate at my feet and surreptitiously retrieved my phone to make sure that no disaster had befallen anyone. It was a message from my eldest:
"Can we get a sea cucumber?" I quickly typed an appropriate response.
"How about a mollusc?"
Anyway. yesterday I went to the shop to look at the fish. And there they all were swimming round their holding tanks varying in price from about £1.99 to £79.99. And suddenly I realised that my dream tank and what I could hope to achieve given the restraining factors of my knowledge, space and available cash were oceans apart. I left.
I dream. I plan. I get carried away but I am ultimately pragmatic. I can have an orb. I can get a couple of goldfish who will swim round elegantly but what I really want is to live by the sea and watch the fish whilst I'm right in there with them and a tank, no matter how aesthetically pleasing, is no substitute for that.