Broken, bloody and beered up (sort of)

Saturday, July 12th, 2003

This morning I forgot that the alarm on my mobile phone was still set to go off at 5.30am. I’d left it resting against a glass coaster on a wooden cupboard and the sound when it went off, the vibrations against the glass amplified by the bass-box cupboard, was like no noise I’ve ever been woken up by before. I reset it to 9am and slept on, shaken.

Come nine o’clock and I was searching for the paperwork I needed to tax the Spitfire. Could I find it? Could I buggery. An hour down the drain while I dug through a veritable archaeological stratigraphy of Lib Dem paperwork and Companies House bumph on, around and under my desk. When it finally did turn up we leapt into the Spitfire to head off to the Post Office, only to find a trail of rusty water on the tarmac behind us. I don’t know what had blown, but coolant was trickling from the engine block. So that was that…

In Lisa’s car we dealt with the Post Office and headed off to Hampton Open Air pool, only to find the car park packed solid and parents with yapping brats and inflatable beachballs milling around on the road outside. So we thought ‘sod that’ and went to Tesco instead, where some dozy bint in a Ford Ka decided to dive the wrong way down a one way bit of car park in search of a space and had to swerve to avoid going head-on into us.

Tesco was surprisingly survivable (mmmmm beer and Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food) and we headed home for a rest and a read of the papers. But once the day had cooled down, the allotment beckoned us…

It’s been a hot week. It hasn’t rained much. We planted a lot last week. We weren’t sure what we’d find.

Well, it could have been worse – the onions are alive, the stuff in pots was badly wilted but still hanging on, the newly planted bits and pieces were looking a bit ragged and dry but still definitely with us. After a heavy watering session, they all started to perk up.

But the potatoes. Oh, the potatoes…

The remains of the first row, the Duke of Yorks, had just about given in to the disease that’s been slowly killing them over the past month. And the second row, the Edsel Blues, which were looking ominous last week, have been almost entirely wiped out. Another few weeks and we’d have got a sackful from them. As it is, we still got a fair few. I pulled the yellow, tattered remains of each plant up and the roots came from the ground with a cluster of small purple globes hanging from them like Christmas decorations from a tree*. Turning the ground over with a fork produced several more larger potatoes. I haven’t weighed them yet, but they’ll do.

The worst is yet to come: the third row’s already starting to yellow, and the tomatoes are going the same way too.

Just before we left I cleared some brambles which were running riot. They fought back, the thorns scoring a points victory against my gardening gloves and whipping scratches across my unprotected forearms. And to round things off I found some sort of black fly lost in a happy ecstacy on my arm, drinking deep from a gory bite. You could say it died happy – it certainly died, that I do know.

But now I’m at home with a beer, and things don’t seem so bad really.

* Dear reader, this sentence is what is known in the trade as purple prose…

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I'm Andy Darley. Sometimes I want to say things. This is where I do it.