I usually give a cursory nod to neighbours as I pass them in the street or working in their front gardens. Today I was held in conversation as one neighbour in particular started to tell me of her dreadful show of bedding plants this year due to the wet weather. On establishing that I wasn’t in a hurry she invited me to come and look in the back garden. Her husband joined us on the tour. In half hour I found out more about this couple than I had ascertained in the 19 years I have lived here.
- The woman had lived in the same house all 83 years of her life.
- Her father was a builder and bought the house in the 1920’s, another house and 2 cottages.
- He used to have huge long greenhouses in the garden in which he grew and sold chemically free tomatoes and cucumbers.
- She showed me a healthy and algae free pond full of various types of fish swimming among an abundant show of water lilies.
- Her garden was vast and the lawn was maintained by the husband’s sit on mower. They had 2 additional mowers for the much smaller front garden.
- Huge mature trees were scattered throughout the garden and she advised me that many birds had taken up residency in the trees.
- In the garage she showed me her husband’s work tools (he had been in the motor industry).
- They once owned - and she used to drive - an e-type jaguar that used to be housed in the garage.
- The husband has a large stomach not because he overeats but because he has to have an injection in his stomach every three months.
- The husband has been living with prostate cancer for seven years.
- The husband had a heart bypass operation a couple of years back because he kept passing out whilst in the town.
- She told me that he felt the knife go in when he had the heart surgery (you are kept awake throughout) and he said that the nurse told him to let them know if he could feel anything and they would administer more pain relieving gel.
- Occasionally the husband is found sitting among the tools and lawn mowers in the garage having a crafty beer and a packet of crisps.
- The usually stern faced woman talked about her husband lovingly as he stood beside her. Hand on his shoulder or stroking his face with the back of her hand.
- She told me that he had fell backwards and cut his head open and the hospital glued the resulting cut together. When combing his hair sometimes the comb got stuck in the glue.
- Standing woman next to man she told me that every day she’s scared that she may wake up and find him dead. He echoed how scared she was.
- In the greenhouse I was shown some tiny begonias that the woman had been tending.
The tour ended and the husband asked me if I had liked it. I thanked them very much for showing me around and said I had always wanted to see the garden but didn’t want to intrude. ‘Don’t be silly. We’re off shopping now’. ‘Enjoy yourselves’ I said and we all went on our merry way.
I returned home an hour later. I had only popped out to buy a stamp!