people are the flavour in the mix, the spice in the vegetable stew. as our reclamation wave moved through each shabby front garden, the digging and planting remained the same, with variations, the antics of the human tadpole kept on. all of it related to a Territorial Imperative. THAT’S MINE! that square footage may have been a dump for a decade, I mean, derelict cars and dumped washing machines on top of petrified garbage, seriously, just start clearing it up and people start getting possessive. fascinating. gives you second thoughts about ‘democracy’.

(Robin for King!)

the Irish woman who came out and started barking orders – “I want this here and that there.” lady, we’re volunteers here… just smiled, took my tools and left – “It’s all yours.”

her upstairs neighbour who wrote me a letter – “I have plans for that space.”

the couple who kept insisting I attend their church service, then vanished without warning the very day they were to give me the long-promised £50 donation on costs.

the English guy with the moustache who got all sly on the price after the deal was already done. “Sly” – how often do you see that? that’s what it was… topped this by, without consultation, “pruning” the climbing rose – chopped it at the base in growing season, killed it stone dead, thankyou.

the Indian woman who, after the whole garden was done for free, a masterpiece of salvaged material and donated labour, freaked out when asked for ten pounds to purchase some bulbs. “No, no, no!”

“The more I see of people, the more I think of dogs” – Mark Twain

some list, what? It pales beside the action of the council

charming, all of it, but nothing compared to the next door neighbour.

the police came to my door. a woman and a man. courteous, and just a trifle embarrassed. “may we have a word?'”

“of course, please come in, sit down.”

“you know why we’re here?”

“I haven’t the faintest idea.”

“the next door neighbour has filed a complaint that you’ve stolen her rose.”

“stolen. her. rose?” STOLEN HER ROSE?!”

a volcano’s got nothing on me.

“I Did Her Entire Garden For Free! I MOVED the rose, no mystery about it, I TOLD her I moved the rose! cos it was clearly dying in that container (roses, at least that one, don’t seem to like containers).”

“Dear Lord!”

phase 2 would have been – “you came HERE for THAT? … what about burglaries/ I pay my taxes for this/ waste of…etc.”

but- probably fortunately – at that very moment the fellow spotted the framed photo of the Millennium Whale Carving.

“hey, you did the carvings in the park.”

and it all slid sideways into cups of tea, and discussing the community and art projects, and…

the lady policeman had the last word: “Just ignore her.”

that’s my plan.


much later, Byron, her neighbour downstairs, heard about it – “I’da ripped that garden up from side-to-side.”

“understood,” said I, “but the garden is a living thing, an entity, independent of mean-spirited nutbar who holds the lease. independent also, no, of my creative efforts. a living thing. I’m not gonna wreck it.”

hoo-boy… Ms Happy’s final gesture was to pull her half of the rose arch back to face the other way. grand.

<— back to people

onwards to end —>

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