Back in March, I think, I promised mr tdg some 'photos of the garden; since then I have been either ill or recuperating, mainly the latter, bed- and wheelchair-bound, unable to leave the house, really. Unavoidably, I had quite a spell on opioids, HillBilly Heroin, the one is called, Oxycodone, it's like a liquid morphine, only more addictive. Fuck it, anyway, I just thought, and stopped it. Took me a week or two to get straight and it'll be some months before it's entirely out of my system. Don't take it. Unless you have to.
It has been bugging the life out of me, though, not being able to get in the garden. Just before I was taken ill, I had bought a huge, fuck-off Honda mower; I say huge, it's a vee-twin seventeen and a half horse power automatic machine but even so it only does a brisk walking pace. I am getting better, anyway, and managed a trip round the grounds last weekend, operating the mower's throttle with a stick; every time I have looked out I have felt a nagging reproach for not posting the photos I promised, who said blogging was a victimless crime?
Much as I love the garden and the shore beyond, it makes me a bit melancholy at times. When I was a kid - here we go, one of those back to childhood forays, in which I always think of that lovely song made famous by Dusty Springfield, The Byrds and others, Goin' Back "thinking young and growing older is no sin " - when I was a kid, anyway, in Belfast, my big brother who, for perfectly understandable reasons, was my mother's favourite child, saying, insisting, that when he was grown he would buy her a big, fine house with a big fine garden with statues in it.
He never bought her anything. She died young, high blood pressure aggravated by family turmoil and strife, by a constant, bootstrapping upheaval, as she and my father struggled to send us to grammar school, church, obedience and insanity. The rewards of Obedience were never ours.
My brother reacted badly and spent his life being thrown out - of schools, colleges, the army and eventually public houses; used to be like stepping into the Wild West, going to the pub with Joe, he'd scarcely have got through the door before he came hurtling out backwards, spitting teeth; money was owed, offence had been given; his unerring sense of others' personal weaknesses was, he felt, a counterbalance to the fact that he never bought a fucking round, instead of thanks he offered vicious insult. He never had any money. He never worked beyond his early twenties. And never mind a garden with statues in it, the only things I ever knew him buy were flagons of cider. Sorry, Ishmael, the boozers'd say, down the Robin Hood, genuinely apologetic, sorry I 'it 'im, I know he's your bruvver an everyfin but the man's a cunt.
I understood him a bit better than they, I knew what drove him and tried often to mollify him. Did no good, well, I never thought it would. When we came to this garden it was mostly a ploughed field; years would go by and I would think as I rode around mowing or planting and pruning hedges and trees that Our Joe'd love this. He'd had an allotment which he adored, until he embezzled the associations' funds and he was thrown out of that, too; he understood the seasonal cycles - in a practical and a philosophical cum spiritual sense - and he would have loved my coastal garden, he would have run himself ragged, chasing down to the beach, gathering seaweed for fertiliser; he could've stayed in one of the apartments here and worked away to his heart's content. It never happened. I had lost touch and all the Googling in the world wouldn't locate him.
His son found me, though, when he died, back, for some mad reason, in Belfast. When he came to visit for a while, after the funeral, I told Chris about how I had hoped and tried to contact his Dad, bring him up for a Summer's gardening, maybe, dry him out. You're mad, uncle Ishmael, he laughed, you know full well what would've happened, he'd have wrecked it, pissed in your face. rared-up and insulted everyone for miles around, you'd a had to get the cops. And my nephew was right, of course he was. Being right, though, doesn't mend sorrow, mine or his.
I'll get back to the garden, soon, hearing my brother's promissory voice to our mother and then, much later, to me, as he stood in his allotment, extolling, long before its time, the righteousness of organic growing. Ashes to ashes, sperm to worm, humus to humus.
And among all the characters of my lifetime, none, save perhaps mr tdg and others here, know or care about my fine house and its fine garden with statues in it. And that's fine, too.
The other garden melancholy, probably the greater, is the absence of my little warm brown friend, who, along with other ghosts, is the real soul of the garden.
Buster, the blogdog;
out of the corner of my eye,
I see him still,
in a hedge, behind a tree,