Nighthawk Calling London

The local Agricultural Fair rolls round every summer, usually to torrential downpours but is always well attended by the village community despite the temperamental British summer weather. The livestock, gymkhana, dog agility demonstrations,sheepdog trials are the usual highlights and most important of all, the flower & produce show. Additionally, there is also a tug of war and tractor racing; although to be fair in recent years those tractors have done a sterling job of towing cars out of the waterlogged field that serves as an overflow car park.

My Dad spends all year lovingly tending his prize blooms ahead of this show. An unexpected sharp frost or torrential rain can cause him sleepless nights and crippling indigestion. The competition in recent years has become more fierce and what was once good-natured village contest has now become a little more intense amongst the gardeners in the community. The reason for upping the ante last year was the new usurper to the crown, in the form of a new neighbour, aka Billy Big Potatoes, who had thrown his hat into the ring in the produce class. Whilst this didn’t actually affect my Dad directly, in an attempt to provide a united front with the allotment association, he was duty-bound to support his comrades in arms in their proposed covert operation, much to the family’s amusement.

His allotment buddies, Ernie & Sid were also entered in the produce categories and could frequently be found in urgent hushed conversation in my Dad’s shed over a shared cuppa. I had to admit to a renewed respect for both Ernie & Sid who seemed to readily enjoy my Dad’s homebrew; clearly, years of abuse has caused permanent damage to their taste buds and they had subsequently become accustomed to drinking what can only be described as shower gel. Fortunately, licensing laws prevented the submission of alcoholic beverages in the show and as such we were saved from the humiliation of having the entire village realise that we had a family member who brewed moonshine. Although, I have to admit that even now the local vicar is a tad partial to my Dad’s Dandelion Wine in addition to my Mum’s Maids of Honour, however, if I’m honest, the Dandelion Wine is his preferred vice.

Last year tragedy struck one morning when Sid discovered that somebody had been tampering with his prize marrows and a joint decision was made in an attempt to safeguard their prized crops that they would take it in turns to sleep over in the shed each night. My mum was secretly delighted and admitted to me that she was looking forward to a respite from my Dad’s snoring. My Dad’s shed has long been a haven for like-minded gardeners for some time and in addition to the discarded lounge armchairs also houses, a wind up gramophone, radio and camping stove in addition to the aforementioned homebrew. In fact, one could say that for some, it was the perfect bachelor pad but without the wild parties and strippers, in fact, the only wildlife were the hedgehogs who used it for their annual hibernation.

Torrential rain and gales were forecast for the night that my Dad was on sentry duty at the allotment and he was readily despatched with the dog for company, a flask of tea and enough sandwiches & cakes to feed 42 Commando. Mum waved off her own little soldier with promises of a cooked breakfast upon his return the next morning; unlike the usual muesli that resembled bird seed, which he was regularly served. Absence clearly did make the heart grow fonder or was it the prospect of having an undisturbed night’s sleep that had made my mother so charitable.

He confided in me that I needed to be on standby that night in the event that he might call me but as he always struggled to find the “on” button on his mobile phone, I thought it unlikely that I would need to spring into action anytime soon. And frankly, if there were intruders at the allotment, would the police really be interested in someone whose only crime was assault and battery of a vegetable.

All of us slept soundly that night and apparently so had my father who was discovered in one of the bedrooms the next morning, snoring soundly alongside the dog, having abandoned guard duty sometime during the night when the weather had taken a turn for the worse; as gale force winds had nearly transported the shed in true Wizard of Oz style back to Kansas. Dad realising that there really was No Place Like Home had resigned his post with immediate effect and hightailed it back to the comfort of blanket land.

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56 thoughts on “Nighthawk Calling London

  1. Tinky Train, I think you should start a blog for your Dad “Tales from the shed, an under-cover secret society from the allotment”. Actually thinking about it, you should get in touch with UK Tourist Office “Visit Britain” and I am sure they would add a “tour of the allotment” to their recommended sightseeing trips for overseas visitors. The allotment society would charge an entry ticket, offer proper tea out of thermos flasks and a selection of home-grown veggies. Imagine all those Japanese tourists clicking away with their cameras 😉

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  2. Oh Dallas, you really DO need to figure out a way to publish. Your writing is up there with Herr Herriot and others I can’t think of off the top of my head (it’s way too scrambled at the moment.)

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    • Praise indeed for I’ve been a fan of James Herriott ever since I could remember – I love all the characters and the poignancy of some of the situations. Thank you for all your kind words, as you know I am a mere amateur but I should motivate myself to do some research in the very least!

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  3. You need to come up with a title about these anecdotes of your home life in England, like you did for the Honeymoon series. It may not sound exotic to you, but for your readers abroad (like me!) it is fascinating!

    This story is absolutely hilarious. I especially liked the last two paragraphs, I was giggling so hard at the end that I bothered my own father watching some kind of video on the other computer in the same room hahaha.

    Did they ever catch the vegetable tamperer?

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    • Thank you very much for all your kind words, it’s hard to think that anyone would find family life at Dyson Abbey interesting!!! Dads are pretty much the same all over the world aren’t they! The Vegetable Tamperer was never caught, personally I think it was a fox or badger but they take these village competitions very seriously – wait til I write about the inter village cricket match!

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  4. The British allotment holder takes his marrows very seriously. My dad was paranoid about his crysanths and dahlias. i can just picture your dear dad creeping back into the house in the middle of the night. So glad he didn’t wake your mom. Did he still get his cooked breakfast. 😀 Wonderful writing.

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    • If he’d woken my mother up, he would have been eating all future breakfasts in his shed! He did get a cooked breakfast but it wasn’t with the hero’s welcome he had been expecting but that’s what you get when you bail out! Thank you for your kind words – it means a lot!

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  5. hilarious as always!!! wish i could try some of that dandelion wine of your dads. and i have a sneaking suspicion that i’d have to beat my little kitty Odie off with a stick (kindly) if he ever had a taste of it too!

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  6. Love this story! I agree with others – you really need to publish a book. Your style of writing and weaving a story is wonderful! … My husband’s father used to make dandelion wine. It takes a strong constitution to drink that stuff!

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    • Maddie, this stuff could strip paint and secretly I think the vicar uses it as communion wine! They’re a hardy bunch, his congregation! Thank you for all the encouragement – not sure where to start with a book as I’m not as talented as you btw have promised myself I’m starting yours at the weekend over a cup of earl grey!

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      • You will soon find out. I humbly admit, you are a far superior writer to me – and that’s ok! I didn’t know a thing about writing when I started writing these books, and my style is very simple. You could win awards with your writing; I aim to entertain. 🙂

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      • Yes but you know Maddie, a good book is about either making you cry, think, or laugh whilst it transports you to another world and judging by the comments from your readers – yours do just that and then some!

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  7. Your dear old Mam and Dad are straight out of old time England. I am really pleased that the allotment owning, veggie growing old blokes still gather in sheds and the competition is still fierce in the local shows. What about Mam is she in the cake, preserves and knitting comps?

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  8. Totally agree with amelie88 – that you should make … something out of your stories about your dad – he are some character – and I can also see him sneaking back into the house. You are so funny …. as I said before .. your talent is really wasted on only us, so thank for that.

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  9. I hope that your father’s return to the refuge of the home did not provide an opportunity to the plant haters to do further damage to the dandelions at the allotment.

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  10. Pingback: The Show Must Go On (Part One) | Crazy Train To Tinky Town

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