Remember allotment lovers Harry and the Lady of Shallot? Theirs was a thwarted union, partly because of their broomstick bodies and sponge ball heads. It was also because an allotment neighbour in the grip of a fantasy about juicy cukes erected a poly tunnel between them.
I held out hope for the foiled pair. It is windy at our allotments and there was always a chance that the poly tunnel might have flapped away one day, borne on its giant transparent wings. But today I saw something that made my hope wither and die completely, a bit like my courgette plants this summer.
Harry has undergone gender reassignment.
Now, I am a modern woman. I know that when one falls in love, one falls in love with a person, not a gender. In that sense, nothing has changed. Underneath the tiered skirt and floral jacket, Harry is the same as ever. To put it another way, once a broomstick, always a broomstick.
And although the Lady of Shallot belongs to the century of Alfred Lord Table-Tennyson and probably doesn’t share my liberal views, I’m sure that given time I could persuade her. It’s even possible she would consider a gender change herself, and become the Lad of Shallot.
But there’s a further problem. Harry seems to have turned into a serious cocaine addict. The demure-looking headscarf can’t hide the straw inserted permanently into his left nostril.
I fumble with the padlock on our shed door, almost forgetting the secret combination. How is the Lady going take all this?
I open the door. There is her head resting on a shelf. Neither Harry nor I have seen her body since February 2012 (another barrier to romance, I admit).
And what a head! Her face is dirty, her hair dishevelled. She has a deranged look. That’s probably down to the buzzing: she shared the shed with a wasps’ nest for much of the summer. But she has let herself go. My nerve fails. I cannot add to her troubles with this latest news.
Then I remember something – or rather, someone – I saw on the way here. I bundle the Lady’s head into a handy bin-bag. Undignified, I know, but sometimes the end justifies the means. I march her quickly to a certain plot near the entrance gate. Aristotle once said ‘one nail knocks out another.’ Never more true than in the area of romance.
We arrive. I pop the head out of the bag. The Lady looks and the Lady sighs. She knows a soul mate when she sees one. Or perhaps it was just the summer breeze rustling through the cabbage leaves. But when I return her to her shelf in the shed, her face has a dreamy look.