|Griffin Outside St. Mark’s Venice|
A new pastime I’ve taken up this year is our weekly or bi-weekly plant shopping trips to Garden Centres.
Garden Centres are peculiarly English. They are almost tourist attractions, and are designated on highways with the same white on brown signs!
Many English people, those “of a certain age,”on weekdays, make a day out of it, leisurely shopping for plants, interspersed with cups of tea, lunch, and varieties of ubiquitous cakes. You see a certain kind of Englishness in action in garden centres.
Garden Centres have everything, all manner of household geegaws which, though pretty, should have “Will be decluttered soon” health warning on them.
They also have garden geegaws, to which, sadly, I am not immune. When my kids were young, they loved this stuff. Coming across smiling sun faces, green men, squirrels, foxes, cats, toads, butterfly or humming bird stakes in odd corners of the garden. I too like the whimsy.
I have an gargoyle, of surpassing ugliness, which I am rather fond of.
And, on our last trip, I almost bought an enormous griffin.
* * *
Well, it had tons of character. I had a little chat with my conscience, and decided: I would rather have that griffin than £50. But wasn’t parting with any more money for it. It was £63. Okay, then, close shave.
* * *
So we tell the girls, ” We almost bought a griffin today.”
One daughter takes this in her stride. “Oh,” she says.
(What is she meditating on? She is as abstracted as her father.)
The other daughter says, “What, where would you have put it?”
Me, frowning, “In the garden.”
She, “What would you feed it?”
What? She studies Greek, Latin, French…. But I guess in some ways, she does live in a magical world, in which parents casually buy griffins. After we moved into this house, we did buy 9 pets in a single week, after all–ducks, hens, rabbits and Jake, the Collie.
I play along.
“Where would you put it to sleep?
Me, “It would sleep in the shed. Or in the conservatory. Or greenhouse.
“It will fly away, Mum,” she says contemptuously.
Me, “It would be like Canada Geese. They don’t leave easy food sources. We might clip its wings. At most it would perch on the willow.”
She “And how would we get it down?”
I, “You or dad would climb up and get it down.”
She, after a pause. “Are you still thinking of it?”
Me, teasing her “Yes, when I earn another 13 pounds.”
She, “And how long will that take you?”
Me, ” A day?”
I leave, inwardly chuckling to record this interchange. She herself won’t believe it a year later.
As I leave, I hear her tell her father, “Oh, it would be so like Mum to sit by the griffin with her Iphone, waiting for 13 pounds of sales to come in!”
And then off she goes to her laptop to record her close shave.
* * *
Realizing this, Roy and I simultaneously rush up, “Listen,” we say, “A griffin is a mythical beast.” Or else, she would soon have told her Facebook world that her parents are going to buy a griffin.
* * *
And so I get the story after all!!
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