It’s often windy up here in Yorkshire, but one night the blustering in our attic bedroom gets so bad it’s impossible to sleep.

Allotment blog humour: falling chimneyProne to forecast disaster at the best of times (a family trait), I toss and turn into the wee small hours. Next door’s chimney is cracked, and I fear it’s going to fall through our ceiling.

Mr Mandy Sutter is no help. Rather than shin up onto the roof and fix it there and then (my preferred option), he says things like, ‘we’ve had it looked at, and the builders say it’s fine. Why don’t you put your earplugs in?’

Eventually I do. When I wake up, I’m delighted to find that a) it is morning and b) I’m still alive.

I’m rather concerned about my globe artichoke plants, though. I have three big ones on the allotment, grown lovingly from seed, and because we haven’t had much frost yet this winter, they are still tall, splashing fountains of silver-green.

Anyway, I go down to check. I’m relieved to find most of their leaves still huge and arching, with edges like circular saw blades.

But when I’ve finished fussing about at ground level, slicing off the broken leaves at the alarmingly fleshy base, it strikes me that something’s wrong with the sky.

I look up. It’s like seeing an old friend minus glasses or beard: it takes a few moments to put two and two together. But the overhead pattern that so reminds me of a diagram of the human central nervous system, has gone.

Suddenly I understand. The wych elm is down!

Fallen wych elm at our Yorkshire allotment

The slain giant.

I hurry over to the spot where it stood and see its roots, broken on one side and torn out of the ground on the other. Luckily, the tree has fallen away from the shed and towards the compost heap.

I gaze on the slain giant. Although sorry to see its destruction, I can’t help remembering the notice the Parish Council pinned to it last summer. ‘DO NOT CUT DOWN THIS TREE!’

Well, the wind has obviously never learnt to read, because the tree is down, whether the Council likes it or not.

I look forward to telling Dad.

But he gets in first. Before today, he hasn’t visited the allotment for months, insisting there’s ‘nothing to do down there.’ But this morning he went, to fetch some creosote from the shed.

‘Have I got news for you,’ he says when Mr MS and I go round that evening.

He tells us he has already drafted a letter to the Council.

Allotment blog humour: circular saw‘Oh, there’s no need to involve them’, says Mr MS, genial and innocent of the dark passions involved. ‘I’ll hire a circular saw and cut it into timber.’

My jaw falls open: Mr MS is volunteering for an outdoor job. If only we could use the leaves of the globe artichoke to saw through the tree.

But none of this matters in the event. ‘DON’T YOU TOUCH THAT TREE!’ Dad says, sounding a lot like the original notice would have done, if only it could speak. ‘Don’t so much as break a twig off. That tree belongs to the Council. I’ve told them it’s up to them to dispose of it.’

He speaks with the delight of one who has at last lived long enough to see justice prevail.

‘Did he poison it?’ asks Mr MS on the way home.

‘No,’ I say.

I know that truth is stranger than fiction. I also know that Dad told the Council he’d welcome a replacement sapling. As they say here in Yorkshire, ‘there’s nowt so queer as folk.’