Jaqui's Daily Blog

Sunflowers, Strategy and Sabotage

The Sunflower Competition, after a slow start, is beginning to hot up.


It has taken a while but finally Mr B has twigged that he will have to be in it, if he is to win it – so he has started willing his plants on and checking at least once daily on their progress. Mr B likes to win.


When I first planted the sunflower seeds he was the Merchant of Doom, reminding me how few of my seedlings ever make it to maturity and generally pouring cold water (metaphorically speaking – at that stage he was leaving all the watering to me) on my dreams of towering, sunshine-y flower heads. When just four seeds out of the whole packet made it to Sprout Stage, he didn’t really need to say “I told you so.” Nothing daunted, I carefully planted out the four tiny seedlings, two for me, two for the uncooperative Mr B in large plant pots which I had I decorated with our initials.  It wasn’t great art but at least we can tell which is which.


Two or three weeks on and our tiny seedlings are shooting up. They have a long way to go but they are trying and I do love a trier, don’t you?  There is not too much between them but Mr B’s No 1 sunflower is probably just ahead of my No 1 sunflower. Our respective reserves are doing their best to catch up.  It’s starting to get really, really exciting.  Well, OK, I will grant you that it is probably an exaggeration to say that it is exciting – but at least we are starting to develop a little friendly rivalry which was the most I hoped for when I started out.


Mr B is just about the most competitive person I know.  He may not be the best with a bat or a ball but when it comes to the strategy of a game, there are few to beat him. England would have sailed through to the quarter finals if they’d only taken Mr B with them to Brazil. When Our Foursome were small, their selective hearing was acute – but they always listened to their Dad on sporting matters.  They knew he knew best.


There was no way our daughters would be allowed a slightly lower netball post on which to practise their shooting skills in our back garden.  No, a full length post it had to be so that the poor little things had to huff and puff as they endeavoured to hurl the netball into the air far above them in the vain hope of tipping it into the net.  He was right, of course, all three developed into ace strikers and the Eldest of the Darling Daughters, when it came to buying a netball post for her own daughters was quick to insist it had to be full-size.


When the two oldest were picked for the sprint relay in the Weald of Kent School Sports, Mr B came up with his very own fail-safe method of passing the baton so that there was absolutely no chance of dropping it.  He had the girls out in the cul-de-sac outside our house for hours on end, practising their baton changes. The result of the whole relay race, he told them, would come down to the baton changes. As usual, he was right.  The Eldest of the DDs, taking the baton from the Middle of the DDs (hope you are following this – it’s a pity I can’t draw you a helpful diagram) was a street ahead of the next runner by the time she handed over to the last girl in their team.  Dad, as usual, knew best.


When the Youngest of the Darling Daughters found herself in the final of a table tennis match at a holiday camp, she was completely outplayed by a far better opponent in the first game of three. It looked hopeless. Then Mr B stepped in. “Just get the ball back,” he advised her, “Don’t worry about fancy shots, let her make the mistakes.”  His strategy worked a treat. Our daughter’s opponent became more and more frustrated at her lack of progress against our dead-pan player and started making one mistake after another. The final two sets to our daughter – and to Mr B – despite the fact that the other girl was indisputably a much better player. It was all a question of strategy, Mr B crowed.


I know what you are thinking. What kind of strategic thinking could influence the outcome of a Sunflower Competition? Which is when I noticed Mr B.  On the patio. With a watering can.


Are we talking strategy? Or sabotage?

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Latest comments

23.04 | 20:15

lovely and heartwarming - an inspiration to us all x

09.03 | 12:07

Love this story told as ever beautifully.x

10.11 | 21:31

What a super account of a special event. I loved meeting you last night and seeing your creation come together. I’m so pleased you got so much from the activity

07.09 | 13:17

I have broad shoulders x

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