Sunday, August 08, 2010

The Girl with the Courgette Tattoo

Maude has decided that having children need not signal the death of our social life.

After reading one of her lifestyle magazines, my wife exclaimed:

‘Cocktails! In the house. No babysitter to pay, no taxi fares. Cocktails!’

A mint patch has been cultivated in the garden and the new drinks cabinet has been stocked.

‘There’s plenty of mint for mojitos and Morten’s bringing the ingredients for a few other recipes. Harriet tells me he’s a wizard with a blender.’

Harriet and Morten are newly coupled. Harriet and Maude met at a mothering group when Harriet was still married to Fred. From very early on Harriet talked about leaving Fred. I took this with a pinch of salt – Maude talks about leaving me on a daily basis.

Then Harriet left Fred and took her daughter, Bronwen, back to The Lakes.

Arrangements were made with Fred and then Morten arrived on the scene – on a very large motorbike. With the speed of a superhero in a phone booth, Harriet donned leathers and straddled Morten’s impressive engine as often as childcare allowed.

Kenny and Simone were also invited for cocktails. Kenny too has a motorbike, but it didn’t seem worthwhile to get Simone into leather for the trip – they only live 2 doors away.

Morten took control of the cocktail preparation and maintained a steady flow of mojitos and strawberry daquiries. Maude and I were happy to delegate and distribute the drinks to our guests on the terrace. The terrace overlooks our kitchen garden. As I arrived with a tray of drinks I noticed Kenny and Simone peering over the fence into the raised vegetable beds.

‘I see your courgettes have failed,’ observed Simone with a faux pained expression.

‘Not in the least,’ I replied. ‘I chose a miniature variety this year, so that Aurora could pick them easily.’

Simone smiled an indulgent smile and reached for her phone.

‘We went for a giant variety’, she said as she flashed an image of Kenny posing with a courgette the size of a toddler.

Kenny is a former soldier. He and Simone share a penchant for tattoos.

‘Simone’s getting a new one on Tuesday – right across her back. A dragon.’

Kenny and I were in the kitchen with Harriet. Harriet was thrilled at all the tattoo talk – she and Morten were contemplating some body art expressing their newfound love in østnorsk.

‘Only problem is‘, continued Kenny, ’she can’t decide what to put in the dragon’s hands. I was thinking Samurai sword in one and a red rose in the other – to symbolise the opposing sides of her personality.’

Thankfully Simone was out of earshot. I could see that she and Maude were stood looking into my vegetable plot with the sombre expressions of funeral-goers looking into a grave. I tried to help Kenny with his quandary.

‘Not sure she would go for that, Ken. The dragon, I believe, already symbolises strength. I’d suggest a design that shows that strength coupled with horticultural skill: dragon proudly holding courgettes of garden fete-winning dimensions.’

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