Friday, 18 June 2010

The Naked Gardener

I’ve been incredibly busy with work just recently, hence my inattention to Somerford Rambles amongst other things…
So a quick catch up is probably in order.

As I went out this evening – about ten to seven, just in time to catch the shop to pick up the paper – I noticed a small person of the naked variety, squatting down among the pebbles on my neighbour’s drive. There wasn’t anyone else about, so I asked her where Mummy was.

“Doing Ouija,” came the reply.

I must say, I didn’t have Kerry down as an experimenter in the occult, but I suppose you never know what goes on behind closed doors in a sleepy English village. Images of Britt Ekland and The Wicker Man sprang to mind.

I was in two minds whether to leave it at that – the shop would be closing in ten minutes – but fortunately Kerry came dashing out, looking for a stray absconder from bath time.

“Doing Ouija,” the little person explained again.

“Yes, I think that’s probably enough weeding for today,” suggested Kerry, who was obviously more in tune with the small person’s turn of phrase. Much to my relief.

* * *

I got down to the shop just in time – Malcolm was already totting up the till and Debbie had a pile of unsold papers on the counter, ready to put out for collection the following morning.

“Don’t you like getting up on a Friday morning?” asked Malcolm as he handed over the now-almost-out-of-date paper. I realise this must now be a regular occurance as I try to get all my work sorted out before the weekend, which will be filled with chores like washing school uniforms and plying my family with something approaching regular meals.

“Well, not until about five,” I explain nonchalantly. Not wanting to burst the bubble of an impression of myself as some kind of lady of leisure idly lounging around in a lilac negligee watching daytime television and perhaps doing a little light nailfiling or somesuch until teatime.

“So what are you up to between five and nearly seven, then? Enjoying a leisurely breakfast?”

I take my paper with what I hope is an enigmatic smile, picking up a packet of all-butter shortbread fingers as I leave, for good measure, keen to prolong an image of someone unsullied by the vulgarian world of work, someone who knows the finer things in life when she sees them. On the way out, unfortunately, the image is shattered as my wellies snag in a piece of bailing twine just outside the door, sending me staggering Dick Emery-style...

* * *

On the way home, I take a detour through the allotments. Too much work has taken its toll on the intensive weeding programme I had planned before the NGS Open Gardens event this weekend. I am manning the welcome table for a couple of hours – well, I sincerely hope someone is coming to relieve me – and make a mental note to position myself well away from my allotment so no-one makes the connection between me and the sorry spectacle of pigeon-mangled cabbages and rabbit-nibbled runner beans.

If anyone reading this is labouring under the misconception that gardening is a gentle activity, man working hand-in-hand with nature, let me put you straight right now. It’s a veritable battlefield. Nature pitted against man and man pitted against nature. Constantly. If it’s not the weeds, it’s the rabbits. If it’s not the rabbits, it’s the slugs. If it’s not the slugs, it’s the fact that we’ve had no rain for weeks and weeks. And if it’s not any of the above, it’s forgetting to make a note of what you planted where and accidentally hoeing them all up under the mistaken impression that they were weeds.

To add insult to injury, someone has misguidedly pulled up the clump of nettles I had in the corner of my allotment. No doubt they thought they were doing me a favour, but it was my one attempt at biodiversity. Now if they’d thought to pull up the marestail growing in between my onions and what remains of my cabbages, it might have been a different matter…