the old gardener

Mr Wallace sits in his chair by the window, looking out into the garden.

‘When we moved here it was an absolute ruin. Wild as anything. Blackberries, buddleia – an almighty tangle. I worked on it over the years. Janice wasn’t into gardens so much, and I was away a lot of the time, so it took a good while. But I built it up, bit by bit. Gardening’s a slow business at the best of times. Of course just lately I haven’t been able to get out so much. It’s quite steep you know. A lot of steps. I can’t manage it like I used to. But I love to sit here and look out on it all. I’m lucky – I know I am.

‘Look! Just there – by that lily pad! Can you see? One of the fish is just coming up to feed! There are frogs, too. Curious little things. They crawl out of the water and laze about on the pads. Oh yes – there’s plenty to see. A mouse lives under those pots. Just over there. He’ll be out later, scurrying up and down. It’s a private garden. Pretty quiet. You’d hardly know there was anyone else around.

‘I’m the last of the family still going. My eldest brother died a while ago. Of old age. The two youngest died of cancer. And that’s a thing, you see. You didn’t hear about cancer so much a few years ago. There was TB of course, and things of that nature, but cancer? I suppose it’s because we’re living longer – longer than we used to – and these things are starting to show themselves. Maybe it’s that. D’you think?frog

‘I miss Janice tremendously, of course. I still can’t believe she’s gone. I turn over in bed expecting to see her there and – well – it’s a bit of a shock. I must admit I lost my faith for a while. But now I’m more content. I know I’m lucky to have had my life – to have this garden to look out on. There’s this frightful business with my legs, of course, but I sit here, and I watch that little mouse dashing about the place, the frogs and the birds and all that sort of carry-on, and even though I’m on my own I think to myself – Geoffrey, it’s really not so bad, is it? Hey? It’s not so bad. I read the papers. Listen to the radio. God knows – it could be worse.’

4 thoughts on “the old gardener

  1. I think so, Jack. He was a little lonely – so many things had changed around him, his family had moved quite a distance away &c – but still, he had that beautiful garden to look out on, and he was at peace in a lot of ways.

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  2. He told me he’d worked as a craftsman all his life – which seemed to fit, because there was definitely something craftsman-like about the way he noticed detail. A lovely guy – very balanced, despite all his problems.

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