Tuesday, 28 April 2009


“Oh no”, I said to Hubby reading the contents of the letter that had popped through the front door, “I’m in big trouble”.
He looked up from his dinner, “How tho?” he asked, a caramelised parsnip impeding his speech a little.
“The Allotment Association is not impressed”, I read the letter again, “It seems that during their last inspection they saw that I had not been attending to my allotment as I should have and according to Rule B, I ought to be keeping it neat and tidy. Oh dear, perhaps the soil and bush has become overgrown”.
“Yeah well Alice, you never have been one for keeping your bush neat and tidy, so you’ve only got yourself to blame. Besides I didn’t really see you as Barbara Good. Percy Thrower maybe...”
I thumped him, hard.
“Thing is”, I continued, “I never expected to be so busy once the youngest went to school; I thought I’d have hours in the day to devote to vegetable growing but what with working, dog walking, house work, groceries, making dinner and all that, well the time seems to fly”. I said all of this pointedly of course, hoping to prick his conscience, expecting him to then say, “Why of course my darling, I shall help you, we shall conquer and cultivate the soil together”. Fat chance. What he did say was,
“Well, you could go of an evening now that the days are longer, especially if you weren’t so hell bent on attending every exercise class in South East Cornwall and insisting on going to that bloody pub quiz”.
I wasn’t going to try and justify my reasons for needing a weekly night out, especially given that it’s only an innocuous quiz with Mags, one where we as often victorious as not. Since when the hell by the way, has Italy only relatively recently become Italy? It’s news to me. My eldest daughter, watching me type ‘Italian History’ into Wikipedia on my return from the pub last week having come ignominiously last, was as ever, truly disillusioned by her mother’s lack of any fundamental education.
“For heaven’s sake mother”, she said wrinkling her nose in disgust, “Don’t you know anything?”
I scanned Wikipedia for an appropriate and quick, answer, “Evidently not”, I replied, speed reading the information in the hope of finding out what on earth had been going on in Europe these last few centuries.
My daughter flicked my laptop shut. “Mum, don’t worry about it. I’ll tell you. Italy was made up of a collection of Papal States and if you ever wondered why people from Rome spoke Latin and not Roman”. I’d never given it a thought. “Then the answer” she continued with much indignation, “Is because in fact Romans spoke the language of the district in which they lived” I continued to look blank, “Such as Latium”. Fancy.
So now, not only was I ignorant in my daughter’s eyes but a harbinger of nettles, weeds and other horticultural undesirables in the eyes of the Allotment Association. I folded my letter and put it back in the envelope.
“It would be very nice if we, as a family were able to clear the ground and get all my seeds into the earth this weekend. If we did it en famille it wouldn’t take too long”.
My suggestion was met with silence. I waited. Presently, the lanky figure of a love-struck 16 year old walked through the door and loped towards me, his guitar followed.
“’Ma”, he said, as though the word itself inferred a silent ‘Hello’ and, after kissing me on the forehead, he leant over his father’s plate and said, “Cool”.
“I find it hard to believe that roasted veg and a breast of a chicken, has or will ever likely be cool?” said his father, slapping the back of his hand so that our son dropped a stolen potato with a yelp.
“I’ve had a letter from the allotment people”, I said, “They are most displeased with my lack of effort, so, I was wondering, if the weather is nice at the weekend that we might...” but before I could finish my sentence he fled with a, “Sorry Ma, love to, but I’ve got a lot of revision to do. GCSEs and all that. You know how it is”.
I know precisely how it is young man, having had to harangue you all through the Easter holidays to pay closer attention to your books and less to your love life and endless digressions.
“Ditto moi Mamma”, said the 13 year old moments later, obviously having been forewarned by her brother, “It has been my misfortune to mislay my memory stick, which means I must buy a new one. At the weekend. Malheuresement I will not be able to join you in any planting pursuits.” Her profoundly alliterative rhetoric did little to persuade me otherwise that my teenage children are unfailingly self-absorbed little so and so’s.
Once again I looked to Hubby for support. “You can count me out love”, he said immediately, getting up from the table and carrying his plate out. I’ve got a dissertation to write”. He never seems to have a dissertation to write when the football is on, or if it’s a lovely day and the dog needs walking but, suggest an activity that may not appeal to him and he sighs and his shoulders are heavy and he oh, so wearily, excuses himself and trudges to his study. Therefore, somehow or other and with ironically, two other, fervently enthusiastic younger children who are only too happy to don wellies and brandish a trowel, I must shift earth, weed, plant an innumerable number of seed potatoes, onion sets, strawberry plants, dried peas, hoe the earth and water it before my name is dragged through ever so neglected mud.


Mopsa said...

Got a friendly neighbour who'd help in exchange for some produce? Me, I love the sowing and the planting, but show me an implement bigger than trowel or secateurs and I come over all faint.

Alice Band said...

Thanks for stopping by, I was beginning to wonder whether I had swine flu given that people having been giving me a wide berth!!

DL said...

Well, you can't be too careful!

D. :)

Sally said...

Teenagers are good at not being on hand when you need them.....