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 asked Malcolm as he handed over the now-almost-out-of-date paper.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…


  1. Now that you've put it down in black and white I am thinking that 'Doing Ouija' could be just the sort of enigmatic euphemism that might grace the idiom of the younger offspring of posher and more literary families. Imagine sitting in a deckchair in the sunshine, at Hay or Cheltenham, say, surrounded by authors and television presenters. Might you not then feel rather smug if your infant, divorced itself from Quentin Blake and asked in the loud voice that children reserve for such occasions to 'do Ouija.' In fact the more I think about it the more appropriate the term seems. After all evacuation and divination are both occult practices usually carried out when suitably closeted and in close proximity to geometric signs. Of course, you might have a problem as the child grows up and starts to read about moving glasses in darkened rooms. "Wouldn't there be rather a smell, Mummy," the child might inquire, "if everyone was doing ouija together? And why then do they move it around?"

    It might be enough to put her off the occult for life.

  2. Had noticed there was an open gharden thingy going on in your village this weekend as mentioned in the local newspaper.

    As I've just managed to hang on to half of my plot despite its lack of cultivation this year, seeing one in a similar plight at the mother of all allotment sites is most tempting indeed...

    BTW Have finally come clean re which of my Honest Scrap statements were actually lies if you're interested...

  3. What a very cute tale of the naked gardener, (once we knew the small person belonged to someone!). At least with the nettles gone it should be safe should you decided to do your own Ouija on the allotment in the nuddy-pants. Hope there were no injuries after the wellie-tripping incident!

  4. Lovely story of the teeny naked gardener. I hope the 'ouijas' were actual weeds too (brings back memories of baby H 'weeding' my herb pot). 'Battlefield'is the perfect description of gardening. For me it's one woman armed with Chillington hoe against the army march of couch grass. Once more unto the breach dear friend...

  5. You did a grand job at the weekend, dear compost ambassadress. I'm very pleased with my postcard and will enjoy it all the more when I can work out it's relation to modern-day GS. The allotments looked great at the weekend in the sunshine - now where is my de-rabbiting stick?

  6. A battle half lost here. I need more ouija.

  7. LOL to doing ouija! Ah, they could come and have a go at my bindweed and ground elder while they're at it!

  8. "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".
    Island life is not easy either! No rabbits here (plenty of eagles though), slugs aplenty, and rain aplenty (maybe due to rainforet proximity?)
    Enjoyed reading your post! Keep on writing, a tad homesick!