Posted by: Linda Proud | July 30, 2007

How to be English in the face of disaster

Today I succeeded in walking on the water. Apart from the deep ditch at the entry to the meadow, it was easy to wade the raised path across to the allotments. The water was exceptionally clear: no fish, but plenty of drowned worms. At the allotments it was the smell that hit me first, the sweet stench of rotting vegetation. So much has died from simple drowning. The runner beans hang limply on dead vines, the lettuces are heaps of decay, the newly-bought bell cloches stand proud in a lake of brown water with nothing inside them (that was my third attempt at squashes this year). I wanted to cry. Instead I got busy and, using a plank as a duck board, pulled up the onions. One fork into the potato patch revealed my worst fears: all have turned to mush. Now I wanted to be sick: all that effort, digging, planting, watering – all for nothing. Robin arrived, soon followed by Don. Not from them the breast-beating ululation of grief I was ready to express; no, a quiet smile and soft, ‘Oh, well. . .’
I came home, mulling over things. At the post office, Carl sympathetically gave me a free cabbage, rescued by one of the Wise Ones who got out there on the Saturday after the rains. I wish I were wise. I wish I had sangfroid. The question is, how to turn evil into good? I said to David, ‘This is our pivotal point. Do we give up, or do we make the most of the situation, clear the whole plot and go for raised beds? Deal or no deal?’ ‘No deal!’ And so that will be our August – getting the materials, marking out the site and doing what I’ve wanted all along, raising the beds. If it works, this will be our last year of such hard work. From now on we shall have weed-free, no-dig beds where one just plants and picks. I hope. . .

The portaloo in Meadow Prospect now sports a poster showing the tardis, and a legend: ‘Meadow Prospect Flood Relief, sponsored by Dr Who.’

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