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Fire and Water

Posted by Dave Bull at 1:22 PM, August 5, 1995

It's still way too early for me to be spending time on such thoughts, as I am a very long way from accumulating the necessary resources for it, but I do spend time now and then thinking about the kind of house I would like to have when I can finally afford to leave this rented concrete box I live in. Of one thing though, I am sure - it will have a fireplace. A cozy warm room with a fireplace. A comfortable room for good conversation with friends ...

And speaking about conversation with friends reminds me that Terry visited us last weekend. I've written before about these visits; about our 'habit' of talking together until late at night (early morning, usually ...). It's so seldom that I see him these days, there is always a backlog of things to talk about. But after each of these visits, when he returns to work on the Monday with no more than a couple of hours sleep behind him, he is unfortunately not very productive ... (His imitation of a young Japanese salaryman is perhaps too exact!)

Because we are both aware of this problem, when he came over this time, we sort of agreed to try and avoid falling into that 'routine'. We were of course enjoying our 'discourse', but when it started to get near midnight, I pulled his bedding out of the closet and laid it down for him in our 'guest room' (my workshop!), continuing our conversation while I did so. He took the hint, and started to get his things together for the night. It looked as though we might manage to get to bed at a reasonable hour, and save him some working time on Monday ...

I got my own bedding out, and set it down in my daughter's room, in a space they had left for me when they had gone to bed some hours earlier. On a shelf in that room though, sits our fish tank. It's not a big aquarium, but one of those fashionable new small 'desktop' models. Inside it, usually hiding themselves well among the grass and stones, swim half a dozen small fish, 'Neon Tetras'. The room was completely dark; the tank still brightly illuminated. The air bubbling up through the clear water, the gentle swaying of the green plants, the occasional flash of colour as one of the fish twisted or turned ... Was this really a fish tank? It seemed as though we were rather sitting in front of a fireplace ... glowing, mysterious flickering motion in a darkened room ...

We sat on the soft bedding, with my two girls sleeping peacefully beside us, staring into the mesmerizing light, and there was just no way to end our conversation. A few hours later, there we were, still at it. We had done it again. Terry would once more be paying the price come Monday morning ...

So I've been rethinking my idea about having a fireplace in my future home. Perhaps after this recent experience with Terry, I should be considering an aquarium instead. But would it have quite the same warmth on winter nights ...?

(August 1995)


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