Once again there is sun on the patio, illuminating it sufficiently to remind me that if I don’t clean it soon it will simply become an extension of the herbaceous border. The slugs and snails wait in expectant queues, their little plates and cutlery sparkling clean, for the hosta’s first new shoots, while a well-fed and utterly paranoid blackbird tries to martial the entire garden into subjugation. He is a fine example of self-perpetuating stress, this bird: I wish I were less like him.
A Greek chorus of starlings comment upon the whole re generational thing from their perch on my telephone wire. They comment very loudly, very discordantly, and very, very messily. Why did I buy a black car?
As for myself? Well, it’s time to retrieve the goat’s horns from the airing cupboard and dust them off. I’m ready to begin that miserable cycle of self-delusion in which I am still the firmly-muscled, bronzed young god I once was – rampant and irresistible, a gift to womankind. Fortunately it is a very brief cycle. It lasts only until my wife tells me to take that ridiculous gold medallion off and button up my shirt. Objection is pointless – she just holds me in front of the mirror until I comply.
Spring, quite apart from being one of the worst examples of onomatopoeia in the English language, is a time for caution. We stags on the loose (there I go again!) are as easily fooled as eager stag-esses by the sun’s cosmetic touch upon smooth disported limbs and bright airy clothes. We pay scant regard to the head atop the more obvious gifts, dismissing as ‘quirky’ or ‘delightful’ the blank spaces that will become profoundly irritating later on. We do this in the name of the species. Procreation was with us long before the decree nisi. Nature cares not a jot if we argue ourselves through a living hell to an early grave – just as long as we produce our quota of 2.4.
So it is up to us, the older, the wiser, the sagacious, to warn our progeny: be careful! Step back from the heat of pursuit, take time to consider! And of course they will, won’t they? Especially as we set such a fine example.
I have to leave this now. I have to fill up an insurance claim because I ran into a lamp-post yesterday. I have to think up some excuse that will sound better than ‘a girl in white shorts was walking by’.Any suggestions?