This article is taken from Stand 240, 21(4) December 2023 - February 2024.

Matt Ingoldby Cluck
Police have pulled me over twice this week about my orchids. They think I can’t see the road through the forest on the dashboard and the trellises over the back windows and the pots hanging from the wing mirrors. I say jungle predators have the best eyesight on the planet. They say not on the bypass to Grinshill.

Both times I’m let off because Mr Car smells so much of fertiliser and my laundry and sleeping bag. And I keep the windows up because chids need body heat, especially in winters like this. All the same, once a week I roll one down outside Maud’s new semi-detached.

On the freezing lawn, my son Jeffrey guides ants into a more efficient path. He recoils a bit when he sees me, but not much.

‘Hey buddy!’

His back says no thanks. Not a talker, our Jeff, but Maud says he’s treated well at the new school, has laminated his timetable and stuck it on his bedroom wall, with annotations.

Steve’s marching out in his bathrobe. ‘What do you think you’re doing?’

‘Nothing! It’s me, Steve. Jason.’ My hands have gone up.

‘I know it’s you. Stop harassing my boy.’

I can’t tell if he’s joking. ‘He’s my son, Steve, come on.’ Obviously he knows that’s my son.

Two 14-year-olds crash outside, hoofing a ball: Steve’s sons from wife number one. The ball whacks Mr Car. ‘Careful!’ yells Steve, forearm on my roof. Jim and ...
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