From Esther

My garden bird cage. (Plants on inside. Birds kept away. As poplularised by Monica. (But I thought of it first!) )

VP is coming to stay (not for ever, I hasten to say but for a few days next week) and this, of course, has thrown the family into a state of nervous tension and crisis.

The thing is, I don't have two large Victorian Greenhouses.

What is the point of the internet if you can't be who you want to be when you are on it? (The internet.)

When I started 'Esther in the Garden' I decided to give myself two Victorian Greenhouses (they were always in my mind) where grow grapes and orchids and pineapples - sustained by the heat generated from a wood-burning stove in an adjoining brick shed and pumped through a complicated system of under-earth pipes in raised beds.

I also gave myself long, lavender-lined walks, a vegetable garden, a sundial and a lovely statue of a naked lady contemplating lilies I don't have because there wasn't room enough left (what with the potting shed and the gardener's cottage, the swing in the pear tree and the wheel-barrow-painting business).

So we've been busy building scenery - of the Ealing Studios / Blazing Saddles variety. Mrs Rustbridger complained. (Of course she complained. She complains about everything.) First she said we were making too much noise. Then she said our pretend Greenhouses block light from her garden. (She lives on our North Side.) "Why couldn't you have used glass?" she wanted to know. "Because painted hardboard windows look more realistic," I told her. "And stop bothering me. I've got enough to worry about already. We haven't a cook, or a maid or a gardener or a gardener's boy. Whatever will VP think? Whatever are we going to do?"

Mrs Rustbridger volunteered to be the cook on condition we dismantle the fake greenhouses before next Friday.

Her grandson will be the gardener's boy. (He's bought braces (of the trouser-holding-up variety) better to look the part.)

Miss Martin's chauffeur will be the gardener.

I will tell VP I've given Mary-Jane a few days off to visit her sick mother. (That's the traditional excuse. No-one accuses one of lying. It's a bit like saying one is not at home - when one is.)

Then there's the house to sort. We've painted the walls (too white, but it's done now) and I'm hoping VP will turn out to be short sighted so she won't notice the paint on the newly cleaned carpet, or the coffee stain on the stairs (where Ming dropped his mug and it bounced down several treads while he was trying to mop up the paint) or the mud everywhere because Worthing is so pleased with his new walking boots that he won't take them off. Ever.

Attractive Montgomery Barrows Painted to order.

You can't blow bubbles in milk-shake without drinking some first, especially if you want to make the bubbles rise above the rim of the glass.

This is what has happened to our house. The bubbles have risen. We had to do a bit of tidying so we could get to the walls to paint them so we piled everything into the middle of the living room and began to sort. Most of it is still there. We're almost getting used to it. The trouble is, the more we sort, and the more we throw away, the more space is needed by what is left.

This morning, I have been tearing up milk bills from 1997. They all have neat little ticks on them to show they have been paid and dates to show they were paid on time. (Not like the 1998 Wessex Water Bill and final demand which says I was about to be cut off. Can't remember why that happened, or how it can have happened when I pay by direct debit.)

I also came across a 'Messenger and Reminder' magazine from the Bincombe with Broadwey, Upwey and Buckland Ripers Parishes. (Year unknown but in with the milk bills - so there's a clue.)

They (Bincombe, Broadway, Upwey and Buckland Ripers) had been planning to hold a 'Strawberry Tea at Batchfoot' - but it had been called off and crossed out in biro. Imagine having to go through the Bincombe with Broadwey, Upwey and Buckland Ripers 'Messenger and Reminders' magazine to cross the Strawberry Tea at Batchfoot advert out of every copy!

I've been wondering what Victoria and Emma do all day at The Independent Newspaper and Magazine. Now I know!

But the best bit ( in the Bincombe with Broadway . . . . Reminder and . . . ) is the Rector's Letter.
I won't type it all out here - but the first two paragraphs are the best.

Here they are, word for word.

"My Dear Friends

So Transport 2000 wants the Police to enforce the letter of the 30 MPH speed limit. Well, now, that's an interesting concept. Not that it will make each of us rigidly keep to the speed limit, though of course we should, but that a single-interest group wants to turn the police into something they are not.

Our Police are not Law Enforcement Officers, though that may come as a surprise to some. That is an American model, and not the one that has ever been applied or ought to be applied in this country. Imagine for a moment if a policeman were a Law Enforcement Officer, and what it might mean for us. There is a real difference between Keeping the Queen's Peace and actually enforcing the law, and I'm sure most of us would chose the former. The latter cuts right across our traditional values and way of life, and would - if rigidly applied - place nearly every citizen in a state of fear."

I don't properly follow the next sections but I think it shows that Jesus is not a member of the Dorset Constabulary and the citizens of Broadwey etc. . . . do not want God to be a law enforcement officer (so he isn't) and that Jesus came to set us free from speed restrictions and, in particular, to leave the residents of Buckland Ripers (et. al.) to do anything they like, as long as they do it peaceably and in an un-American way - for if they put their trust in Him, they will be forgiven everything.

I wish Ming hadn't stood in the middle of the garden to swung his paintbrush until every plant was spattered with little white dots.

Or leaned the paint-tray against the ammonite.

* * * * *

I hope a wind doesn't knock down our scenery. The Greenhouses look rather good.

* * * * *

I hope Mrs Rustbridger doesn't get swine flu until after she's been our cook.

* * * * *

If the pretty little white flowers hadn't fallen off our coffee tree I could have pretended they'd been grown by Miss Martin's chauffeur in the Greenhouse and not on the living room window sill.

* * * * *

I'm off to buy a pineapple.

Wish us luck!


Where this post first was . . .


Simon Baddeley August 1, 2009 at 8:21 AM
The new name for parking wardens. Be afraid, be very afraid or like me take to the bicycle (:)) Simon

3c August 1, 2009 at 8:49 AM  

Hello Simon.

I like the way, in the article you point to, the Enforcement Officers aren't allowed to do any enforcing when not in uniform. It gives the impression that they might otherwise be tempted to go around giving people parking tickets on their days off.

I would guess the changes in name suggest a treadmill attempt to improve their self-esteem - which seems to involve boosting their sense of self-importance as well . . . moving on to a tougher, beefier image (which is sad).

If we didn't have as many cars, we wouldn't need as many people to regulate where they go . . .