COLUMN: Are seahorses real and where on earth is Russia (literally)?

dead plant
dead plant

I’ve never had much of a green thumb.

Our garden is filled with grass and a stone patio and, once every two weeks, a nice man with a year-round tan comes to mow it.

When I was a kid I tried to grow some cress in cotton wool on our window sill and it turned brown and wilted without ever sprouting a leaf.

When people buy me flowers - and I sincerely love getting flowers - I put them in a vase and forget to add water after the first day. And I always wait until they’re bordering on turning themselves into potpourri before I finally throw them out.

That’s why I was rather alarmed when Imogen returned home from our visit to Ferndale Garden Centre, after paying a visit for National Children’s Gardening Week, with a hanging basket of freshly potted tomato seedlings and a pot of corn seeds. I’m deeply concerned for their wellbeing.

I don’t have the gardening instinct - it’s one of my ‘gaps.’ I’m referring to a gap in skill or knowledge - we’ve all got them. It’s a thing that, for whatever reason, you simply never learned or picked up. And you shouldn’t feel bad about your gaps, honestly. Everybody has them. For some it’s ironing or their timestables, for others it’s the mis-pronunciation of a fairly common word that they likely learned by reading it in a book. Perhaps you think seahorses are mythical creatures, like mermaids, or that the North Pole is the fictional land where Santa lives. Some of the most intelligent people in the world wouldn’t know how to refill the oil in their car or pick out Russia on a globe. These are the same people who call taxidermists for help with their taxes or think that, when people say Prima Donna, they’re actually saying Pre-Madonna.

I would argue that a major contributing factor to any gap is a lack of interest. After all, I love history and classic literature but hate politics and maths, which is why I could give you a detailed rundown of the history of Hampton Court or recall the opening chapter to Little Women from memory, but haven’t got a clue about legistlative process and can’t add-up for toffee.

When I was in college I had a brief dalliance as a barmaid where I was once asked for a vodka and bitter lemon. I hesitated briefly before pouring a vodka, then chopping a lemon in half and handing one of the halves over to the speechless man on the other side of the bar. In my defence, I’m from Barnsley and ‘bit of lemon’ in Barnsley-nese sounds exactly like someone ordering a bitter lemon.

Ahem.