Key’s Cupboard: Rose Garden

Key's Cupboard

I beg your pardon? I never promised you a rose garden. Go and look at the paperwork, where it is clearly stated that I promised you a ditch rife with puddles and nettles, teeming with tiny creatures, worms, flatworms, things with hundreds of legs and vibrating antennae, things with bulbous globular eyes and things with no eyes at all. It is also made crystal clear that this ditch is designed to surround your chalet, like a moat, and that no roses will grow in it. A towering hollyhock or two, yes, but not a single rose. Why on earth do you think that I promised you a rose garden?

How dare you accuse me of tampering with the papers! Are you seriously suggesting that I Tippexed out whole paragraphs of the original and used a scratchy nib to insert a completely different schedule of works? You are casting aspersions upon my skills as a landscape designer of note and inferring that I am but a brute armed with a spade. I travelled the length and breadth of the country to find you specimens of the creepy crawlies you requested, rare maggots, weird blind wriggling transparent night crawlers, slithering horrors, and all the rest. There was no rainfall for weeks on end, so I created those puddles with my bare hands, carting bucket after bucket of duckpond water from the brackish duckpond over yonder beyond the municipal bandstand. It would have been a lot easier to plant a few roses in the ground, believe me.

Yes, I know you did not call me a brute with a spade, those were my words, but that is what you would have said were you a man of plain speech rather than a pompous puffed up milksop given to Jesuitical circumlocution. Has it occurred to you that your very verbosity may have contributed to you getting a ditch dug around your chalet instead of a rose garden? You could have said to me “I’d like a rose garden, please,” and I would have taken that on board, but oh no, such simple language is not your style.

You did not say “I’d like a rose garden, please”. I refute that utterly. If you had said that, why would I be clutching three files of paperwork which clearly show that you asked for a moat-like ditch rife with puddles and nettles and creeping creatures to be dug to a depth of six feet around your chalet, without any provision for a drawbridge? Do you think I just made that up off the top of my head? Why would I do that? Ditch digging is back-breaking work, especially when you only have one old rusty dented bent and battered spade to work with. Try it yourself.

There is no drawbridge straddling the ditch because you clearly specified that you did not require one. Yes, that did perplex me, but I assumed you were planning to vault the ditch on those long spidery legs of yours.

It is preposterous to argue now that you did not ask for a drawbridge because you would not need one to gain access to this putative rose garden you keep harping on about. Will you stop banging your fists on that portcullis?

Well… I will grant you that. It is indeed unusual to find a portcullis blocking the door of a chalet where there is no accompanying drawbridge. The two usually go together, I agree. And no, nowhere in the bundle of papers do you request the installation of a massive cast iron portcullis requiring the strength of ten muscular peasants to winch it up, which is why it does not come with a winch, or any kind of levers or pulleys or such contrivances. I am a landscapist, not an engineer.

If you recall, on the tenth day that the works were being carried out on your ditch, I told you that I would be unavailable on the following Thursday as I had to attend the presentation of a prize cup far, far away in a distant, cold, and mountainous land. Your immovable portcullis was installed in my absence, by rogues. It has nothing to do with me.

I have had quite enough of this. I am about to send my messenger starling to perch on your portcullis. Tuck the banknotes in the ring around its leg and flap your arms as a spur to send it back to me. If you do not do so, I am going to go and fetch my old rusty dented bent and battered spade and I will fill in your ditch. The puddles and the nettles and the teeming creeping creatures will vanish under piles of muck and mud and soil, and you will cut a forlorn figure, a Jesuitical milksop hammering on your portcullis, a man without a ditch.

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About Author Profile: Frank Key

Frank Key is a London-based writer, blogger and broadcaster best known for his Hooting Yard blog, short-story collections and his long-running radio series Hooting Yard on the Air, which has been broadcast weekly on Resonance FM since April 2004. By Aerostat to Hooting Yard - A Frank Key Reader, an ideal introduction to his fiction, is published for Kindle by Dabbler Editions. Mr Key's Shorter Potted Brief, Brief Lives was published in October 2015 by Constable and is available to buy online and in all good bookshops.

One thought on “Key’s Cupboard: Rose Garden

    December 10, 2010 at 16:19

    and things with no eyes at all. LOL.

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