Credit where it’s due.
The tree has really pulled its finger out this year. Or its root. Or whatever trees pull out when – management cliché alert – they’re going the extra mile.
It’s groaning with fruit. OK, maybe not groaning, but certainly expressing some discomfort.
The good news is, they’re apricots. And above all things, I love apricots.
There was an early prelude last week. One of them fell to earth. A large, fat juicy one.
“One day on the kitchen windowsill and it will be perfect,” Jane declared.
It so happened that the “one day” was the one day I was working at home.
I’m sorry, there are no prizes for guessing what happened.
It was whispering to me all day. The seductive call of the siren apricot. I gave in at lunchtime.
But I didn’t eat all of it. What sort of man do you take me for? Half of it.
How to put this without sounding like a soft porn novel? I can’t. I bit lovingly into the soft, yielding flesh. And then with a supreme act of will power left the rest of it for my wife.
“There’s good news and bad news,” I told her when she came in at tea-time.
“Well the good news clearly isn’t that you’ve tidied the kitchen. What is it?”
“It was the tastiest, juiciest, most wonderful apricot I’ve eaten in my life.”
“You’ve eaten it? You - ”
“Only half of it,” I said. “That’s what marriage is. Sharing…”
“Or decaying fruit in our case,” she said thirty seconds later.
“You’ve bitten it, left it in the sun and it’s gone rotten. Thank you very much.”
Relations were accordingly frosty for a couple of days.
So when Jane decided that a) the rest of the apricots were ready and b) a fruit picker was needed, volunteering seemed a sensible career move.
“They’re up there,” she said, pointing towards Heaven.
“How come all the fruit grows so far out of reach?”
“Just fetch the stepladder and get on with it. And make sure none falls into next door’s garden.”
The stepladder and I have never been on good terms – especially since I fell off it painting the hall – but I climbed pluckily to the top.
I still couldn’t reach.
“We need a fruit-grabber or whatever they’re called.”
My wife sighed. “What have I been telling you?”
“No problem, I know just the thing.” I climbed back down and went into the hall.
“What’s that?” my wife demanded.
“It’s a 4-iron,” I said. And it worked a treat.
Apricots cascaded down. Unfortunately they landed in the daisies.
“Damn it,” Jane said. “I can’t find them now.”
“Well get in there and look for them,” I said from my lofty perch.
“What do you think I am? Some sort of truffle pig?”
The sight of my wife on her hands and knees rooting about in the daisies brought several possible replies to mind.
But I’ve finally acquired some common sense…
“Of course not, darling. Hold the ladder and I’ll gladly look for them.”
So much for chivalry.
The wretched things hadn’t landed in the daisies. They were next door. In the roses.
But what are a few lacerations compared to the fruits of my wife’s labour?
I rescued the last of the crop from a particularly thorny bush and went off to find the Germolene.
“Mmm… These are awesome,” I heard as I came back.
Jane and Ben were hard at work, eating the food I’d risked my life for.
“We’d better leave one or two for dad.”
“What about that one? I just saw a worm crawling out of it…”