Old people garden. They garden to fill the time between retiring and dying. It also gets them away from the sickening sight of their grown-up children – who have come home to sponge due to the Recession – shedding biscuit crumbs over the three-piece.
Flancers should in theory garden because they virtually live the same life as old people – stuck in front of the telly, forgetting to go to the toilet, a burden on their immediate relatives, etc. But they generally do it because if they spend one more minute indoors, they will start to slam their head in a cupboard door or eat the bread board.
Gardening is excellent for flancers because it can take up the best part of a morning and brings with it a deep, physical feeling of satisfaction and new beginnings. Much like having a good poo. But hopefully, without the shovel and bin bags.
Gardening arguably put one’s life in perspective. The eternal cycle of life and death inherent in the bushes, insects and flowering shrubs strikes a poignant chord: there is more to life than keening like a Grecian widow at rejection emails or letting out a little barking sound and locking yourself in the airing cupboard when adverts for NatWest Bank come on the telly.
‘It’s only an advert’
‘They know I’m here.’
‘It’s an advert!’
‘They have overdraft radars that can see into your living room. And your soul. I saw it on Tomorrow’s World. I’m TELLING you.’
This is of course, based on the premise that you actually own some greenness out the back of your rented boxroom. [TEST: (1) step away from your laptop (2) look out of the window. (3) Can you see a green square covered in dandelions and cat poo? That’s it.] Even if you do not, a window box or – at a push – carton of cress, can be snipped and shaped to powerfully calming effect. You could perhaps plant seeds in your cress tub. Or erect a bird table if you were really insane.
If you do have a garden proper, it’s likely that if the gardening time-wasting bug hits, you will at some juncture desire to grow vegetables. Because that’s what cool, young, cool people do. It may only be a mint plant that you sit on the windowsill and the direct sunlight burns it to a sorry handful of miserable straw, but to you (ie. to anyone that asks) it is a “Small Holding”.
‘Really? How small?’
‘A small handful of straw-like, sun-blasted mint.’
You will buy the River Cottage boxsets, nodding sagely as Hugh F-W creates something astounding from one egg and something he found in a puddle by the pig sty, making notes and hoarding used teabags in order to ‘mulch’* them. You will consider buying a chicken.
And then it will start raining and the garden will go back to what it was forever destined to be under the green fingers of the flancer: a place where fag butts and empty bottles go to die.
* Nobody except Alan Titchmarsh actually knows what this is. If a male friend says he’s sure he saw it happen in an ‘Adult Film’ once, he hasn’t heard you correctly.