A highlight from my blog about Dad’s allotment, in which he makes his own teeth…

nettles, allotment

Nettle jungle

Dad is right about the blackcurrant bushes.

I slash through the nettle jungle with a bill hook, a vicious thing I bought at the local tool shop. My hands tingle and throb despite my new gardening gauntlets – even my stings have stings.

Dad and Mr Mandy Sutter look on.  They seem to be discussing the price of the bill hook. ‘Four quid for that?’ says Dad. ‘Ridiculous. I wouldn’t give you ninety-nine pence for it.’ He tells Mr MS that he made his own rake yesterday by hammering some spare 4 inch nails into a piece of wood and attaching it to an old broom handle.

Mr Mandy Sutter is clearly awestruck by the idea of anyone having spare 4 inch nails lying around in the first place, let alone doing anything with them.

But once an inventor, always an inventor.  When a front incisor fell out recently, he decided not to consult the dentist, but the local stationer. He bought an eraser and with his scalpel cut a new, rubber, tooth to slot between his remaining ones. He soaked it in tea and red wine for a week to get the colour right. He’s unable to eat with it, but that doesn’t seem to be the point.

When old family friends came to tea recently, he kept it in the whole time. He had to pretend to drink his tea, for fear of the tooth falling in.

‘Do you think I got away with it?’ he said, almost before they were out of the door. ‘Do you think they suspected? Brian didn’t say anything.’

‘No, Dad,’ I said. ‘Well, I don’t suppose he would.’

Back at the allotment, I go on hacking. Dad and Mr MS survey the two saplings at the back of the plot, near the fence. ‘I could get those down in ten minutes if I could get hold of a good bow saw,’ says Dad.

But all talk of tools is suddenly abandoned. All talk of past glories and future triumphs is put aside as the last sentinel ring of nettles falls and a fragrant-leaved thicket of fruit bushes is revealed: blackcurrants and blackberries (which we love) and redcurrants  (which we could love if only we knew what to do with them).

And there are berries, shining among the leaves like pirate treasure. Later, a knowledgeable friend will tell me the berry-to-bush ratio is pitifully low and the bushes too old, and I should probably get rid of them. But for the moment, we all just turn to each other and grin.

Our first discovery as allotment novices: redcurrant bushes

Fragrant-leaved thicket

‘Wow!’ says Mr MS.

‘Blackcurrant jam!’ I reply.

‘Stewed fruit,’ says Dad. ‘There’s nothing like it, with a dollop of Cornish ice cream on top. Nice and soft.’

Mr MS slides me a look. I know what he’s thinking. That stewed blackcurrants and ice cream might be the one thing Dad can eat with his rubber tooth.