Total Pageviews

Monday, 10 May 2010

Overheard Conversations, Weeds and a Smack in the Face

02-05-10 – Having been away in Italy for the past two weeks I am dreading the state my allotment is in. I decided to get one a few months ago, and was lucky enough to get one with a private group, so it has security. For just £30 a year I inherited a patch left to its own devices. The man who had it before me just left it one day eight months before I took over full of vegetables and never returned. So it was left to me to sort it out. My two reasons for wanting an allotment are firstly to have the space to grow enough fruit and vegetables for home, thus saving the pennies. Secondly, because when I eventually move to Italy, I will want to grow most of the fruit and vegetables we shall be eating out there, as do most Italians. So I saw this as a training exercise. Now I don’t have one of those self sufficiency dreams, I’m not deluded into thinking I can move to Italy and enjoy the ‘Good Life’; besides I don’t know which ‘Good’ I’d be, Tom or Barbara – thinking about it I’m probably more a Margo. I know the challenges of growing will be different as will the produce, but I just wanted to get into the habit of cultivating.

So I arrive at my allotment, Harry who I share the space with has watered my sweet peas in my absence, and they’ll be ready to put out in a week or so. The brambles I cleared have started to come back, and the nicely dug over beds that were lovely patches of brown just two weeks ago, are peppered with tiny green shoots, not produce, but weeds. I set about hoeing between the onions and clearing them from my bed where today I shall be planting my cabbages. As I share the space I don’t usually take my iPod, as it would be rude to ignore Harry, besides he’s a wise old sage when it comes to tips on growing. Harry’s not here so I put on the music and start to wage war on the mares tail. Big Brovaz, comes on with ‘Breaking The Cycle’ I hum along as I continue with the never ending battle to get rid of this persistent weed, Marilyn Manson shuffles into the headphones with ‘Fundamentally Loathsome’, how apt for this back breaking job. 03.05.10 – Bank Holiday Monday. I wake at seven, have a couple of cups of tea and head off to the allotment. It’s not a bad day, there’s a threat of light showers, but that doesn’t concern me, today I want to tackle the brambles that have gone mad in my absence. So with thick gloves on I chop away at the prickly tentacles. No one else is around and the birdsong is lovely to hear. Once the brambles have been satisfactorily cut back I turn my attention to the spot I’m hoping to have my pumpkins. I’m digging it over and putting some slow release plant food into the patch when I hear Mr Have-We-Got and Mrs I-Don’t-Know, arrive. They have the allotment over the hedge from me, and do nothing but argue from the moment they arrive until the time they go home. I gave them their unusual surnames because they’re phrases they habitually use. For example, he’ll say, “Have we got any bin liners?” her response will be, “I don’t know.” This is usually the prelude to an argument. They’ve been on their land for little over five minutes when he asks, “Have we got any string?” she replies, “I don’t know.” To this he says, “Well didn’t you think to bring some?” Her response is, “Why didn’t you bring it?” and that’s if they’re off. I switch my iPod on and block them out. With Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, ’Get Ready For Love’

On my allotment there is the base of an old Victorian brick built greenhouse, sadly a year ago the wooden frame collapsed, so I’ve a large patch of land peppered with broken glass, as the previous renter didn’t bother to remove it. I spend the afternoon sat in the sunshine, sieving soil and picking out glass. It’s a laborious job but I want to put my potatoes in the greenhouse beds, so necessity dictates I get it done. A cheeky little robin joins me, he perches close by watching me with its black little eyes, every time I move away he swoops down and picks up the bugs my digging releases, filling his belly before flying off to watch me from his perch again.

After several hours I head off home, my car is parked next to a playing field where amateur football teams play games. Today three girls, two boys and a red bycycle have invaded the pitch. The boys are kicking a football to each other whilst the three girls try to balance on the bicycle; one on the seat another on the handlebars and the third standing on a pedal, of course they are unsuccessful. I watch when one of the boys kicks the ball to his friend, he misses it and it hits the girl on the handlebars. The boy runs forward to grab his ball as the angry girl jumps off the bike, she picks up a yellow plastic gold club and then proceeds to beat the boy about the body with it. He tries in vain to run away, but she’s so angry she keeps pace with him, whacking him all the way to the gate. Once through the gate he stops and faces her, she hits him with the golf club and he throws his ball at her, then punches her squarely in the face, flooring her. I laugh, thinking she deserved that, and drive away. IPod plugged into the car and Horse singing, ‘Hindsight, It’s a Wonderful Thing.’

04.05.10 – Don’t people say daft things? I was in the local Tesco today, having popped in for a couple of bottles of Montepulciano d’Abruzzo and as I passed the deli counter I overheard a woman ask the assistant for, “Five slices of your nice ham, the one with the orange crumbs on the edges.” Of course how often do you enter a shop and request the assistant serve you with a portion of their horrible produce. It’s like when someone says; “I’d like something really nice for dinner tonight.” Are they inferring that the previous evening they had something horrible? Maybe they rarely have anything nice for dinner, and getting back to Tesco, possibly the customer was really making a statement about their other hams not being so nice?

05.05.10 – I spend the day preparing the first lesson for the children’s acting classes that we have set up. There’s a selection of warm up exercises and then some characterisation work. We have some really talented kids in our 'Action Project’ group and to see them handle Shakespeare is marvellous. Rachel fills in an application for some lottery funding, which hopefully would enable us to offer the project, which runs in school holidays to more kids for free. I drive home via Tesco, more Montepulciano: Where does the wine go to, never seems to last? Overheard conversation 2: I’m stood at the checkout and behind me is a Pakistani gentleman, he’s having a conversation with another man about the forthcoming general election, it goes like this: M1, “Are you voting tomorrow?” M2, “Oh yes of course, you?” M1, “Oh yes but it doesn’t matter who gets in, immigration issues won’t be addressed.” M2, “I know, they’re let far too many bloody foreigners in don’t they.” I laugh inwardly, it’s obvious by their age and accents that neither of them where born in this country. I pay and head off home to make cannelloni for dinner, which I have to say was very nice.

06.05.10 – Election Day comes and with comes drizzle. I trudge off to the polling station at the school around the corner, Martha Wainwright sings ‘Factory’ from her first album, the iPod knocking against my right hip with each stride. I’m in a good mood today I fitted back into my favourite jeans, a pair I bought in Sorrento with impossibly long legs: Italian men are not very tall but all their jeans come with legs made fit for a giraffe, why’s that? I’m having a trendy Italian purple shirt day, topped with the jumper I got in Lanciano two weeks ago, even my pants also from Lanciano are purple – a plum trinity. Overheard conversation 3: I arrive at the school gate and a car pulls up and in front of me, abruptly a car door opens and onto the pavement tumble four senior citizens. I stop to allow the last woman to get out and follow them down the steps into the school playground. The conversation goes like this. SC1, “Look at all the chewing gum on the floor.” SC2, “Disgusting, isn’t it?” SC3, “Yes, it’s the young ones today, no respect.” SC2, “You can say that again, people today have no respect for anything or anyone.” I skirt around the shuffling quartet and walk towards the desk, I’m about to hand over my polling card when Senior Citizen 2 walks over, pushes in front of me and hands her card to the woman at the desk. Respect – it’s a two way street I think, ‘With Respect Comes Responsibility’ a poster on the wall says and for a minute I’m tempted to point it out to the woman, but am unable as the remaining three oldies shove past me to get their ballot papers, without so much of excuse me or sorry.

I have been in contact with the Italian lawyer that we are planning on using to purchase the house in Italy that we like. I have put in an offer and now it’s just a waiting game. Nothing moves quickly in Italy, (except the traffic).

07.05.10 – So we have a hung parliament, no clear winner. The sudden predicted surge in votes/popularity for the Lib Dem’s didn’t materialise. Echo and the Bunnymen seem to be the order of the day; the band has shuffled on the iPod at regular intervals today. They are just finishing with ‘My White Devil‘ from their third album (1983) ‘Porcupine’ as I unplug them lock up the office and head off home. Overheard Conversation 4: I’m walking through the car park when I hear a the following exchange between two young men – YM1, “How did you find out?” YM2, “By talking to odd people in the pub.” I think to myself, just who are these ‘odd’ people, what makes them anomalous, and where is this pub that’s frequented by these peculiar people?

I feel like spaghetti tonight: I could eat the stuff every day; I love it. I put on an apron and start making a tomato sauce. I have to wear an apron now as I have too may shirts with spotted fronts where bubbling sauce has leapt from the pan as I stir it. I’m wearing my favourite Italian jeans and keep tripping over the hems so I decide to do a Germaine Greer and prepare pasta sans clothing. It’s said, she once cooked in the nude, a pasta dish for friends. So I do my tribute to the nation's favourite feminist, in my own inimitable way. 08.05.10 – Well the weekend isn’t very promising, it’s overcast and I’m doing some research for an article that is my latest writing assignment. Sinead O’Connor sings ‘I Am Stretched On Your Grave’ as I wade through names, dates etc. At 11.00 the day brightens slightly and I decide to take the short drive to my allotment, to see if in my absence the weeds have flourished once more. As I step outside it starts to rain, typical. I go back inside and switch on the iPod and go back to my research. ‘Another Lover’ from the original reality TV ‘popstars’, Hear’Say comes on and I make myself a cup of coffee and go back to my research. The sun eventually comes out and I go to the allotment, tackle the never-ending war with the weeds and pick the first of my horticultural bounty. A few stems of tender young rhubarb. With a pan of stewed rhubarb on the stove and a small quantity languishing in the freezer, I set to making some rhubarb and mint jelly, and two jars of the said jelly sit cooling on the window sill as I upload this weeks instalment.

No comments:

Post a Comment