MAN’S WORLD: The tomato time of life...

Tomato time
Tomato time

It’s Valentine’s Day. 8am. Walking the dog on the beach.

And here I am striding along in just a sweatshirt, coat left resolutely in the car.

So it must be Spring.

A point I made to my wife. When she eventually woke up of course.

“When do we start planting things?” I said.

I’ll spare you her reply. But yes, you read it right. No longer will I just wander into the garden to see what’s ripe enough to eat.

No longer will I see it as somewhere to sit with a beer; somewhere to close my eyes and do some ‘creative thinking.’

I will freely admit that in the past my wife has been the driving force in the garden. She planned, she’s bought and – I’m ashamed to admit – by and large she’s dug as well.

But no more. I’ve turned over a new leaf – or shovel if Jane has anything to do with it. I even know what time Gardener’s World is on TV.

How has my wife reacted to this?

Cynicism is perhaps too strong a word. Nope, on second thoughts it’s exactly the right word. She’s seen too many false dawns. Too many times I’ve marched purposefully into the garden – only to collapse with a beer ten minutes later.

But something has changed.

Maybe it’s Tom and Jessica being at university and the recognition that I’m getting older.

Maybe it’s the fact that supermarket tomatoes taste of nothing at all and ours taste somewhere beyond wonderful.

And I’ve been given a job. Garden furniture. My opinion is required.

Obviously I won’t get the casting vote. I may not even get a vote at all. But my opinion is – apparently – being taken into account. (And then it’ll be dismissed. Just like in all marriages…)

I don’t care.

I’ve got the catalogue. And I have the page open on my iPad.

Tables, chairs, a pergola seat (who’s building that I wonder…) And when we’re not strong enough to make it all the way to the patio, a small table for me, my beloved and two glasses…

It promises to be a long, hot, relaxing summer.

Especially when my babies are born. Belriccio; Aviditas; Santorange.

How sad is that? I’ve finally reached the age where I’m erotically aroused by the name of a tomato…

Oh, and Shirley. Matures early and crops heavily. (There’s a music hall joke in that but I’m going to resist on the grounds that my wife proof reads this column and I’d quite like to live until Easter…)

I need to focus on the furniture.

And make some sensible suggestions.

Replacements are required. Sadly some idiot didn’t do a very good job of weather proofing the table and chairs last summer and then forgot to put them away when winter came.

So I make my first suggestion – with some confidence I might say.

“Don’t be ridiculous. We can’t have black. We live 600 yards from the sea. The damn seagulls would use it as target practice.”

Hadn’t thought of that. Not the way I’d want to spend my Sunday morning.

I try again – but my batting average doesn’t improve. “Too difficult to clean.” “Too green.” “Too expensive.”

Eventually – and inevitably – I’m sacked. Sent to make the coffee while my wife makes the decision.

But I don’t care. The clocks will change in a few weeks. Then it’ll be Easter. My tomatoes will be in.

I can almost taste them. Some fresh bread… Shirley and her friends on my plate… a glass of wine…

I may need to have a rest on our new garden seats.

Close my eyes; do a little more ‘creative thinking…’