Thursday, April 12, 2012

Leatherhead Sunset

When I was little, my grandfather and I would buy each other amaryllis bulbs for Christmas. Well, I say that I would buy him a present, but the reality was that my mother would buy two bulbs from Mummery’s, the local nursery (it was quite old-fashioned – it was a “nursery”, as opposed to a “garden centre”), give one to me to give to my grandfather, and give one to my grandfather to give to me. But anyway, bulbs exchanged, each year I would happily unwrap the obvious amaryllis box, see what colour this year’s bulb was (red variegated was my favourite, but sometimes it would be a disappointing salmon pink one), and the competition would be on!

We would both plant our bulbs in January, and race to see who could get theirs to flower first. I really can’t remember who won any of the competitions, but I remember careful scrutiny of my grandfather’s efforts when we visited each week. There’s something lovely about the flowers – they seem so gaudily artificial, stuck to a thick clumsy stem which is bursting out of an ugly bulb that scarcely fits in its pot. I don’t know what happened to the previous year’s bulbs. I suspect they were given to my grandfather for safekeeping in his potting shed (he had two sheds: one for storing nails in alphabetical order and useful bits of wood for stirring paint; the other for gardening accoutrements and smoking in secret), but I don’t know why they never reappeared.

Anyway, a few years ago, when asked “what would you like for Christmas?” I remembered this, and asked for an amaryllis bulb. To my great joy, I received not one, but two – both red, one of which was variegated! And since then, I’ve planted them each year, and watched the flowers grow, and remembered my granddad.

Last year, one of the bulbs got partially-eaten by a rodent, so didn’t flower, but the other (the variegated) made up for this by producing two huge flower spikes which lasted for ages. So this year, I thought I would take photos on a daily basis, showing the development of the flowers as they grew and unfurled. Almost immediately, I ran into difficulties. I mean, how do people do these 365-day photographic projects where they take a picture of the same thing at the same time each day for a year? Do they never go on holiday? Do they never find that the cat has barfed on their bed and so they have more pressing things to do than take photographs? Do they never go to parties and get home too late (or drunk) to get any meaningful shots, and say “oh soddit”? Disappointingly, this year there was only one flower spike, and what with having a Social Life and Clearing Up Dead Mice, it seems to have flowered and withered before I knew it. So I didn’t get any photos of it.

So instead here’s a song about the railways picture of our road at sunset in the rain last night.


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