Mr Ninian’s garden was beautiful. In high summer, Mr Ninian grew delphiniums, hollyhocks and convolvulus, not to mention lonicera, flax and hypericum. Peter was his next-door-neighbour. He washed his hair once a fortnight and shaved when there was a ‘z’ in the month. He lived on a mixture of dry corn flakes and TCP. He cast envious glances over the fence at Mr Ninian’s garden. His own was full of nettles, ragwort, dock, abandoned mattresses and decaying copies of the ‘Worthing Advertiser.’ Some of Peter’s mixed flora might have been attractive in the wild, but not in Mahonia Avenue.
One day Peter decided to annoy Mr Ninian. He walked into Mr Ninian’s exquisite vegetable garden, bursting with greenery, and sat down on his prize marrow. Mr Ninian rushed from his house and yelled:
‘What the hell do you think you’re doing, Peter?’
‘I’ve grown attached to your marrow.’
‘You’re sitting on it.’
‘Why shouldn’t I? It’s only a bloody vegetable. You can’t eat the blasted thing, anyway. You’ve filled it so full of chemicals, it would rot your insides if you took a single bite.’ Afterwards, Mr Ninian complained bitterly about Peter to the Environmental Services Department of the Council. A jobsworth named Pritchard visited Peter and served on him an ‘improvement notice,’ a sort of referee’s yellow card which gave Peter forty days to transform his garden or he was out of his council house onto his substantial bat-like ear. On 20 July, when the Mr Ninian’s delphiniums were azure jewels, the hollyhocks pink flamingos and the convoluli had finer trumpets than Louis Armstrong, Peter hired a flame-thrower and razed the whole lot to the ground. ‘There,’ he subsequently said to Pritchard, ‘serve a bloody notice on him.’
Published in Issue #9