The romance between scarecrow lovers Harry and the Lady of Shallot was blighted from the get-go.  Then our allotment neighbour, in the grip of a fantasy about juicy cukes, erected a massive poly tunnel between them.

Nevertheless, I have held out hope for the foiled pair. It is windy at our allotments and I’ve hoped that the poly tunnel might flap away one day, borne on its giant transparent wings.

But today I see something that makes my hopes wither and die completely, a bit like my courgette plants earlier 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. His soul, or as some might term it, his broomstick, hasn’t changed.

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 I could educate her. She might be able to love Harry still, despite Harry’s poor fashion choices. Or she might consider a gender change herself, and become the Lad of Shallot.

But there’s a further problem. Harry seems to have turned into a coke addict. The demure-looking headscarf can’t hide the straw poking permanently out of 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?

When I finally open the door and see her head resting on a shelf, my heart sinks. Neither Harry nor I have seen her body for over a year (another barrier to romance).

And what a sight she looks! 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. My nerve fails. I can’t add to her troubles with this latest news.

Then I remember something, or rather someone, that I saw on another plot on the way here. An idea strikes.

Aristotle said ‘one nail knocks out another.’ This was never more true than in the area of romance.

I bundle the Lady’s head into a bin-bag. Undignified yes, but sometimes the end justifies the means. I march her quickly to a certain plot near the entrance gate and pop her head out.

We stand together, gazing at the allotments’ striking new arrival: Hobby Horse Person.

You and I may see only a head on a pole. But the Lady I hope sees an inspirational figure, someone who has  dispensed with the body and its many oppressions for good.

We walk slowly back to our own plot. When we pass Harry, the Lady doesn’t spare him a glance. This is a Good Sign.

As I replace her head on its corner shelf next to the Blood, Fish and Bone, she wears a dreamy look.

At the very least, HHP will have given her the confidence that it is okay to be body free. But she may actually have found a soulmate. As I lock the shed, I fancy I hear a sigh. But perhaps it is just the summer breeze rustling through the cabbage leaves.


Drawings by Janis Goodman