‘Puts me in mind of a pepper’, he said, peering through narrow glasses perched halfway down his long, angular nose. He continued to view the plant from all angles before straightening his bent body and peering around the small room.
‘No tomatoes?’, he enquired.
‘I keep them in the Grow House, over by the wall’, nodding in the general direction of the cheap, plastic contraption sitting at a jaunty angle by the south-facing wall. ‘It’s far sunnier there and they seem to do better.’
His eyebrows arched in exaggerated surprise. He then nodded sagely, but with obvious disbelief, mumbling about the cost of a greenhouse, it not being positioned in the sunniest spot in the garden, and it not being used for growing tomatoes. And then, adding how I had far too much money to waste.
‘And this little table and chairs?
‘It’s so we can come out of an evening, sit in the warmth and have a glass of wine’, I smiled. ‘It’s a nice place to relax and see the garden without shivering in the cold.’
He shuffled in a circle to get a better view of the garden through the glass walls but stumbled. I caught him and rested him on one of the chairs as he started coughing, placing his stick to one side. ‘Just as well I had them’, I quipped. He ignored me and started fumbling in his pockets, wheezing heavily.
Pulling out a battered packet of cigarettes he paused, looked up at me and asked, ‘This is outdoors isn’t it?’
For anyone else I’d have said obviously not, but for him I said, ‘yes dad, this is outside’, and heard those words echo in the small, half-empty glass house as I stared down at an empty chair, imagining the smell of tobacco in the air.
In memory of William McDermid, 19th June 1922 to 30th August 1998. He’d have loved a greenhouse xx