Mr B says he is afraid that he isn't the best of company for me these days. Well, we shall see about that! I tell him.
Admittedly spending an afternoon together assembling our new greenhouse would have been quite a test of any relationship.
Just to be clear, this isn't a pukka greenhouse - as in, one with lots of glass, you know - but rather a cheap tubular frame with four shelves and a plastic covering, complete with a handy zip-up front panel. According to the front of the cardboard box in
which it comes, our greenhouse is going to "make growing your own easy". Well, let me be the judge of that.
I start off, as is my fashion, trying to insert steel tubes into holes which look as if they might just fit. Mr B complains that I am acting
"like a bull in a china shop" again. Yes, he says this a lot and it is almost always justified. He waves under my nose a list of instructions and suggests that, before we do anything else, we should check that the cardboard box contains all the necessary components
of a greenhouse. You know it makes sense, he just about manages not to say - though I can tell he is biting back the words in the interests of Marital Harmony.
So we count them all out. Ten cross members - check. (Fortunately there is a helpful
drawing, otherwise I wouldn't have the faintest idea what a "cross member" was.) Sixteen uprights - check. Twelve cross poles - check. Two roof arches - check. Four trays - check. One cover - check. All present and correct, Mr B! All we have to do now is to
assemble the frame by pushing the uprights and cross poles firmly into the cross members - firmly being the operative word. Every time I think I have the hang of it, another tube - here an upright, there a cross pole - slips out of its cross member and crashes
onto the patio. Cross? You bet I am.
Eventually our greenhouse is assembled (after a fashion) and I haul it over to its preferred location, next to the vegetable trough on one side and the water butt on the other. We stand and admire our handiwork
. Mr B says I need to put something heavy inside, lest the wind blows our greenhouse away overnight. Do you think four tomato plants and a tray of compost in which I have planted sunflower seeds will be sufficiently weighty?
I'm still concerned
by Mr B's fear of not being good company anymore - so I raid the cupboard in the front bedroom in which our old long-playing records are stored. We are going to play a couple of LPs a day (I say,cheerily) on the new music centre we bought ourselves for Christmas.
I brace myself for the inevitable grumble about the Suoer Duper stereo system which he wasn't allowed to keep when we decorated our living room on account of the sheer amount of space it took up.
We play a record by Frank Jennings Syndicate. Who?
I hear you ask. But in 1975, Our Frank and his Syndicate won Opportunity Knocks, and in the same year he appeared - for one night only - at the Staplehurst Village Hall in a dance organised by, yes you've guessed it, Mr B. What a night that was! we remind
each other. Staplehurst had never seen anything like it. You see, I tell Mr B, nobody else would be the least bit interested in listening to these old records with me. They simply wouldn't understand the "back story" to each and every song we sang and danced
along to in the early days of our marriage.
We play Chip Taylor and then Ned Porridge who has nothing at all to do with breakfast but sings one of my favourite country songs, one that resonates even more with me today than it did back in the day.
"I've got a peaceful, easy feeling,
I know you won't let me down."
Dear Mr B. I hope you feel that.
I hope you know that...