Rosey likes to tell people that she lives in The Meads. This is almost true; her apartment is at the western end of Eastbourne seafront, so she just about rubs shoulders with the gentile folk of the town’s upmarket area. She also works at their local school, so for various reasons she is quite well known to them. The inhabitants of this exclusive district refer to it as Meads Village, despite the fact that it is not in the countryside, and it forms part of the sprawling resort of Eastbourne.
At its centre is a street of independent shops; a throwback to the time when people bought venison from butchers, mange tout from greengrocers and Moet from a wine merchant. Half way down is a newsagent which Rosey visits monthly to collect her Gardening World magazine. To the left of the newsagent is a hairdresser and to its right, an undertaker. Rosey told me once that they collect magazines called Hair Today and Gone Tomorrow.
As you know my friend Rosey has an allotment. Not any old allotment, hers is different. Not for her rows of potatoes and bushes of fruit. No. Rosey’s is a cottage garden with a pebbled centre surrounded by borders of flowers and small shrubs and clay pots. It is all overlooked by her pink shed and a rustic wooden bench. During her Easter break from school she has been busy tidying it up, turning the soil and adding spring plants. Last week she invited me, along with our friends Gareth and Claire, to drop in to her little piece of paradise for a gin and tonic at her shed. When we got there she was washing her garden tools in a water barrel. She likes to keep them clean because Sally spade, Freddy fork and Trevor trowel all hang on hooks on the shed’s walls alongside her paintings. It was bit chilly so we all squeezed inside her pink palace. She opened her well-stocked drinks cabinet which stands alongside the ‘throne’ (as she calls her armchair!) and she poured us four large ones accompanied by a bowl of olives.
She told us that she is hoping to exhibit some tulips at the Meads Village May Fayre next month, provided of course the tender plants brave the unusually cold spring weather and dare to unfold their petals! At the end of the main street is a hall, right next to the kitchen and bedroom showroom which I once owned. It’s used for meetings by all kinds of organisations; the Scouts, the Mead Wine Society, Alcoholics Anonymous et al. At the May Fayre all of the local groups, including the Allotment Owners Club come together and put
on little displays in the hall. Outside on the forecourt, visitors endure the Morris dancers, delight in performances by the School of Dance and applaud the crowning of the May Queen. The highlight for Rosey is when her class from school dances around the maypole. Rosey shouts instructions to the skipping kids in an effort to keep them from getting tied in a knot, something they usually manage at some stage in the proceedings thanks to Roseys occasional inability to differentiate between left and right!
Meanwhile back at the allotment she told us her latest gardening joke. What kind of flowers do you give to King Tut? Chrysanthemummies! As per usual when coming out with a whitty quip, she ended by admitting that she didn’t actually get it herself. When we explained it to her, she groaned and decided to drop it from her repertoire. Very wise!