Dad (92) is an enthusiastic custodian of old sayings and catchphrases. He inserts them into conversation with relish, no matter how irrelevant.
The word ‘infamous’ triggers Kenneth Williams’ ‘Infamy, infamy, they’ve all got it infamy.’ And Dad will not let pass any reference to juvenility or maturity without insisting ‘at my age, everyone’s young.’ Then he laughs his head off.
Mr Mandy Sutter, more generous than I, and having known Dad for 15 years rather than 58, laughs along and says afterwards that it is great to see Dad enjoying himself. But then Mr MS has a fat portfolio of stock phrases himself. One of his chief jokes is answering ‘yes please’ to a question that merely requires a ‘yes’ such as ‘will you be driving to Leeds tomorrow?’
Over the years I have put in some serious graft in the smiling and laughing department. It has sometimes been through gritted teeth as I witness the failure of yet another attempt to communicate.
It isn’t just a gender issue. My Mum also used to get sidetracked by questions of language. As a teenager I’d be confiding about a relationship breakup and she’d say ‘don’t use words like ‘dumped’, dear! Where do you pick up these vulgar Americanisms?’
More annoying still is that nowadays I’m often tempted to correct friends’ pronunciation and when someone asks me ‘will you be driving to Leeds tomorrow?’ I want to say ‘yes please.’ When the word ‘Spring’ comes into my head, within milliseconds it has become ‘Spring is sprung.’ I even considered using it as a title for this blog post.
But anyway. What I want to tell you is that March is here and Mr MS and I have been in our new house (down the road and along a bit from the old one) for over half a year.
There were several reasons for moving but for me the greenhouse was key.
It is 6′ x 8′, old and rickety with many cracked and missing panes but as other gardeners will understand, it was worth spending £100,000 on a new house for.
Over the last few weeks, I have built a hot bed inside it. (For more about hotbeds, see my previous post.) I haven’t heard of anyone doing this before, which may be related to the old saying that people who live in glasshouses shouldn’t throw stones.
I don’t actually live in my greenhouse. Don’t believe everything you hear. Let us then rephrase. ‘People who drink cups of tea in glasshouses should not wield hammer and nails in them.’ In the building of the hotbed, several further panes of glass were smashed.
But despite the increased ventilation, logic dictates that the steady low heat of the hotbed will create the effect of a heated greenhouse. Indeed, so far so good. February was boracic in Yorkshire but inside the greenhouse it stayed above 2 degrees C, even at 3 am one morning. No, I didn’t sleep in there that night, nor did I wake up on purpose to check. I just ‘happened’ to be awake.
And my seeds have sprouted. Lettuce and radish came straight up and it is surely only a matter of moments before carrots, tomatoes and aubergines follow. As you can see, spinach and chard seedlings are flourishing too but these had a head start – I sprouted them in trays over the winter.
The temperature in the greenhouse has at times gone up to 23 degrees C. I shall have to keep an eye on that, as in Yorkshire such temperatures, even now Spring has sprung, are illegal. My greenhouse might become infamous. And you know what I’ll be able to say then. Infamy, infamy, they’ve all got it infamy.