Tuesday, August 4, 2009
No time for gin - there's beans to pick
I got back from work to find the house strangely silent: no cooking sounds, no sizzle of strange spices being flung into a wok to the strains of Clementine’s meditation with whales cd.
Maybe she’s left, I thought and was surprised to find I felt abandoned rather than relieved.
I found her slumped in a chair in the back garden, surveying a selection of berries and vegetables heaped on the table before her.
‘What is all this?’ I said. I wondered if maybe she’d finally cracked and confiscated the entire contents of the eco-unfriendly vegetable shop she's always giving out about on Market Street.
‘This,’ Clementine said flatly, waving a hand at the heaps before her, ‘is some of the produce of your vegetable garden.’
‘What?’ I sank down next to her. ‘But . . . I only planted a few peas . . . and one or two other things. But not this. Never this. I mean, surely not . . .’
The truth was I wasn’t sure what I’d planted anymore.
‘Why,’ Clementine said bitterly, ‘would a single woman, living on her own, plant enough French beans to feed an army?’
I felt my face grow red.
‘Actually,’ I said stiffly, ‘You gave me some of those French bean plants. And for your information the Irish army happens to be quite small.’
Clementine humphed. It seemed she was in a bad mood.
I hadn’t had a great day either.
The chief reporter had called in sick for the third time in two weeks.
‘Swine flu my arse,’ Michael muttered, slamming down the phone. ‘More like the aftermath of a bank holiday booze-up.’ He eyed the editor’s glass office nervously before landing his gaze greedily on me.
‘You’ll cover it,’ he said brightly. ‘You’re the editor’s golden girl right now. Even if you feck it up he’s not going to slaughter you. Not much, anyway,’ he added, ushering me towards the office. A moment later I was snared in the editor’s terrifying glare.
‘Yes?’ he barked.
‘Dee’s volunteered to cover the trial for you,’ Michael said, before darting back out of the room. The editor looked me darkly up and down.
‘Well? What the feck are you standing there like an amadán for? Get down to the courthouse – and I don’t care how good your shorthand is, if you mess this up you’re fired.’
‘It’s the Quilty trial,’ Michael whispered, handing me a folder and shoving me out into the rain. Ten minutes later I'm listening to a Dr Ryan giving evidence, studying the back of the oddly attractive Garda who I no longer find attractive's neck, and trying to work out what exactly the Quilty trial is all about.
I’m still not sure.
‘Do we have any gin?’ I said to Clementine, now staring gloomily at the rows of runner bean plants lining the paths.
‘We don’t have time to drink gin,’ Clementine said crossly, standing up and handing me a colander. ‘We have beans to pick.’