18 March 2010

Stranger in the Shrubbery

I have to say that this whole Bruschetto in the Boschetto brouhaha will all have been worthwhile thanks to Doc Baddeley's unsurpassable comment about The Stranger Gardener.

  • I repeated it to Maman as an anonymous comment from a first-time blogger in Keynesham and we had a good old laugh.

  • Mum has this fixation about how well dressed he was.
    • "So, mother - did you notice if his raiment, like, shimmered?" (Oh do shut up)... did He perchance let slip that in His Father's greenhouse are many mansions?"
  • Next, there he was droning on about the money at his disposal when Mum had been told it would be easier to spoon feed 5,000 municipal jardiniers through the eye of a camel ... "
  • I could just picture her there on her stool, digging and hacking as this urbane gent rabbited on. Every now and then Mum snapping at him until he finally murmured,
    "Marjorie Marjorie, don't you recognise me?"


"I'm terribly sorry but my memory isn't what it used to be. Look if you're just going to stand there chatting, perhaps you could make yourself useful and- goodness! How did you do that?"
"Marjorie - it's not your time yet, so don't waste it here. Dad knows I've tried to make sense of what goes on in that Municipal building."
Mum: "You're probably not the gardening Son

[terribly in joke, prolly not worth keeping in]

but next time you're having a word with Your Father, I've always wondered ....

WONDERED WHAT? At this point Baddeley's Blague had us laffing too much but we stopped at a wonderful point: With only one question, what WOULD a gardener put to the Lord High Loamist?

Maman is now walking around thinking up the mother lode source-of-the-Nile question, the answer to which would open the most doors for the trowel brigade.

Me, I'm the wrong person to ask but I've worked out the exact spot where Mr Shining Raiment stood and I shall be organising guided tours with authorised souvenirs.

So bravo Badass for distracting her and bringing merriment to the day.

Dept of How Did You Do That? - I joke about Kyrios Simmering Raiment, but stap me if he didn't go right ahead and work his wonders.

Look at this photographic report of March 21 showing how, overnight, all the good work done by my mother was dug up and cineraria popped in their place.

As my mother said to him, "But these die off" and as he replied, "No problem - we just buy more."

Seriously, we both just scoffed at such optimism:

  • Maman had from the start been told that there was no money for buying plants

  • When she asked for a little help, she was told that not a finger can be lifted without authorisation from senior management - the officer who visited her on the Mayor's instructions to woo her expertise.

  • Et voilà! All that planting wasn't dug up and the cineraria in its place without a slip of paper.

    All I can think of is ... the explosion there would have been if we'd rolled up to find a gang labourers tossing the turf. Cunning blighters - we'd been going regularly and seen no one and been offered no help, and here they are timing it perfectly to perform this major operation at the very time we are absent.

    Malfetto in the Bosketto

    I vowed never to defile these pages with time-wasting blather on that treadmill of futility, "gardenry".

    But my mother's March 12 visit to the Mayoralty was an eye-opener that transcends distaste and good manners.

    I have seen maman's March 16 follow-up, inspired/provoked by her encounter with a curious and curiously powerful gent who, if true, sounds to be usurping on the exact same brief she herself had been handed - albeit sans €.

    I had written:

    Blah blah blah ... the workings of the Municipality, about which Mama has had countless warnings from well-meaning pals of exalted local standing and power ... very touching single-minded approach my mother has taken to this task from Day One.

    She can connive and swive with the best: no single woman survives for 20 years out here on her own without street wisdom - a foreign woman, to boot, than whom no lower form exists ... fascinating to see how guileless she is when it comes to beloved gardening, almost as if Mother Nature has plenty of tricks of her own without mere humans thinking they can steal a march with their petty politicking and maneuvrings.

    She's spry but she's old, damn it, and the job she's been asked to do requires help, not that she can be bothered to wait for slackers or dissemblers to get on board. Plants and daylight (and Maman) wait for no man.

    The staff she's met are typical of clock-watchers everywhere - name a chore and you can see their brains ticking over excuses why it can't be done or how to get out of it ... the very fact that they are on the job makes it a doomer from the non start.

    Something very sad about her March 12 report.

  • All that trust and assumption of professionalism in return. Anything else, she's as Greek as the rest, but when it comes to gardening and being asked to apply her skills, all she sees is the purity of Nature and the fun of botanical combat. If someone asks her help, she assumes a level of seriousness and responds accordingly - otherwise she rolls with the punches and keeps her own counsel.

    Look at me - No time for this drudge hobby, loathe it. But my mother takes it in her stride. The dogs bark, the caravan moves on.

  • david bellamyBut back to Boskers. I have to laugh ~

  • Mum is asked to 'advise', agrees, the Mayor appoints a senior official, a date is agreed for him to visit two days hence, he doesn't turn up at the appointed hour.
  • Finally, with Hizzonner prodding, everyone *does* meet here at the house for a tour of the garden.

    Mama lays out photo albums of the building of the house and garden, walks them round ~ no one seems very interested. I lie, one nice bloke - Gianni Dallas catches mum's eye. Never seen again. I joke that he made too good an impression for the prefects' comfort.

  • ... Mum loses no time starting work on the Bosketto - even before the Toff Tour of San Luca, maman had made 3 visits to the Bosque and ideas were bubbling.

  • It's in her report but you had to be there from the off to savour the true lack of backbone:
  • No one there to introduce her to the [invisible] staff
  • No contact name or number to call
  • No one thought to mention that she need not worry about the Playground which is under Rotarian care.
  • Nil reaction to her regular blog-reports emailed to key names at ever step ... but bleagh, enough of my moaning.

    I just feel bad for her, taking all these fine municipal words at face value and receiving nothing in return. Exactly what pals had warned her would happen ~ zilch.

    Yesterday I went round the Bosketto with a camera, snapping old pals and surprising myself with how intimately I knew some parts and my mother's vision for them.

    Looking glumly at all the spots she'd got her stool out and got stuck in - mostly dead, of course; unwatered - it struck me that after San Luca, the Bosketto will also be a sort of memorial to her, a memorial to her indomitable spirit and love for gardening that recognised not the dead hand of bureaucracy or clockwatching, of suspicion of authority, of short-sighted politicking.

    But fie on such impotent grizzlings - Un bon croquis vaut mieux qu'un long discours, as Boney quothed.

    Late breaking news: Suddenly, my mother is talking about a man she bumped into on March 12 as she was trolling around looking for her 10am date.

    It sounds as if she came across him around the south gate.

  • Dressed in suit, so clearly not one of the regular garden staff.

    Read all about it from MH herself.

    Baddeley Comment: "Strangers mistaken at first for a gardener. Easter approaches."


    Simon Baddeley said...

    Strangers mistaken at first for a gardener. Easter approaches.

    Busker said...

    Ooh that *is* good. That is painfully good, like it might get U outta gaol many more times than is decent. Wow!

    i am limp. i was going to say something but it's gone. something about wondering if maman did indeed meet this dapper etranger with his all-powerful planting potential, but all is answered. and it was indeed in the cool of the evening. groan i have to work it into the main blog report. should send a chill up the municipal extremities.