“You really are doing SO well!” I say, encouragingly, “Keep it up now!”
From the other side of the
garden wall, an amused voice enquires: “Are you actually talking to your plants?!” I look up to see a fella, accompanied by a dog on a lead, surveying me with a quizzical gaze. I confess that I am “guilty as charged, my Lord.”
My new friend tells me that I am in excellent company - that makes three of us, he pronounces, proudly, the third member of our Band of Three being His Royal Highness and
Renowned Plant Whisperer, Prince Charles. I take a surreptitious glance around my front garden which, despite the truly glorious lilies and the ceanothus about to burst into a cloud of blue, is not exactly on a par with the wonders of Highgrove. Even I can
“What’s that plant called?” he asks. No, not Prince Charles, don’t be silly, I’m talking about the fella with the
dog. I could have told him the name by which I know this particular bush but I rather think he is wanting to know its botanical name which, unfortunately I can’t remember, not when I’ve been put on the spot and all that, you understand. I wriggle
out of a tricky moment by telling him the story of how we used to have two of these bushes in our back garden only to see one of them pole-axed by the hurricane of 1987. He shakes his head, remembering, then we say our goodbyes and he heads off along the road
towards the roundabout.
Tomorrow I am off to Cardiff on a “Nanna Visit” to see my (Not So Very Little) Welsh Boys. We are going to have SUCH
fun! Mr B is going to be very well looked after in my absence by the Inestimable Rosalie who assures me she will keep him comfortable, fed and watered. It is a bonus, indeed, that she likes sport because Mr B won’t want to miss the FA Cup Final on Saturday
afternoon, not to mention the cricket / the rugby / the golf - please delete as appropriate. She has also offered to water the garden which is going Above and Beyond the Call of Duty.
For some reason, when going away even for the shortest possible time, I feel obliged not to leave anything undone. In vain do I tell myself that I will be back home on Monday afternoon and that there is nothing, absolutely nothing,
that can’t wait till then. I just find it difficult to believe myself.
Going away is, to be fair, quite a palaver (as my dear Dad used to say.) Because
it’s the first time the Inestimable Rosalie has lived in, I have had a lot of explaining to do - and I’m not just talking about making sure she knows behind which door in our fitted kitchen she will find the fridge, the washing machine and the
dishwasher. I also need to describe which buttons she will need to press if she wants to turn the oven on, being as it is playing up again - and remind her to switch it off before she goes to bed, unless she wants to be woken up by it bleeping in the middle
of the night. She will need to know, won’t she, that the handle on the door of the tumble dryer has broken off but that the door can be prised open by using the tea spoon which I have left handily on the top of the drier. And that’s just for starters...
Still - “Everything will be fine,” I say, “You will be very well looked after...”
Yes, indeed, I’m talking to the plants again...