Please take my word for it: the Basil plant on my window-sill is amazing. A minor miracle, even. 1) It stands at around eight inches high — an impressive two inches taller than the average human male penis, according to statistics — and 2) every time I look at it I get that same feeling of awe and wonder and WOW! (now it’s time to ditch the penis comparison because it’s not appropriate…) that the kids in Jurassic Park had when they first saw the dinosaurs (and Sam Neill’s character too, now I come to think of it. I remember he was flabbergasted, and with that one look he restored my faith in adults that they weren’t all really annoying gits). I can’t keep plants – and did not inherit my grandmother’s ability to allow plants and flowers to flourish – but this Basil plant is…there are no words for its luscious green leaves. No words. OK, there are, but if I tell you them they will just seem OK, and that’s insulting to a man who has achieved greatness which he never thought possible — not to mention insulting to my Basil plant. Because actually, these words signify more than something just OK…they signify a great life-force which I have, by means of dedication, committment and love, carefully cultivated. One which, had I not existed, would not have been here today. Ah, it makes me feel all special just thinking it.
Mum ruins it all. Every single time she sees it we have the same bloody conversation. It crushes me. It’s always when my defenses are down and I am least expecting it, such as just after eating a Crunchie and thinking The world is too amazing to be true, there can be nothing bad about it!
“It’s dying, I tell you,” she says, arms usually crossed. “I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s dead by the next time I see it.”
A lie: it’s NEVER the same conversation. Mum has endless variations which she attacks me with. Sometimes she goes for the jugular with a comment about how the leaves seem to be dying lower down – “yes mum, it can sense your presence!” I don’t say and hope she never knows by suddenly getting hip with technology and reading this post – and sometimes she’s more refined. The conversation starts off pleasantly, and then, when I least expect it, plunges into a horrible cruelty regarding my Basil plant’s ability to grow leaves quickly. I don’t think this is at all intentional, but how do I communicate that to my Basil plant?
Mum is not happy unless every time she sees it, there are new, enormous leaves for us to use. I try telling her that this is not a cooking programme or alternative dimension where time does not exist and Basil plants grow big overnight. I try telling her that where the Basil plant started life, things were different and a careful combination of nature and nurture allowed this plant to grow rapidly into a wondrous specimen; that a constant supply of rich light allowed photosynthesis to occur, giving the plant an almost super…plantlike (?) ability to regenerate overnight, and that here, on this poxy window-sill, it doesn’t get nearly enough light, seeing as we live in England and have just the sun to do the job (just the sun. Anyone would think the sun was feeble and on its way out). Mum doesn’t care though; she has this in her head and that is that.
“Well if it doesn’t start growing better soon then I’ll throw it out,” she says. “I just can’t bear to look at it!”
I hold my head in my hands, but only mentally, imagining myself doing this. I cannot show weakness. I must protect me and the plant by being strong for us both and saying what it would say if it was able (“Bloody well leave me alone, would you? I’m trying so hard here on this window-sill and yet nobody sees it…I didn’t f-ing ask to be planted and grown in a freakish artificial environment, you know!”).
Sometimes, just sometimes, Mum looks like she is starting to understand the Basil plant. We are on the same page, if only for a tiny moment. She gets it: Its slow way of reliable growing that has made Goat’s cheese sandwiches so enjoyable, and pasta taste great.
Then it comes: “Maybe it’ll recover. But I’m skeptical.”
“But I don’t think it will. I knew it was hopeless the second I saw it.”
I walk away. Be strong, be brave.
Then I snap.
“No Mum,” I said. “And I don’t blame it with all this negativity!”
NOTE: this blog post is an isolated record of events that features my Mum ONLY during conversations about MY Basil plant. It in no way casts aspersions about her mothering skills, and I will say here that she is the downright best mother in the whole entire world. I could not ask for more. There, that should stop her from disowning me. It’s all about damage limitation, people!
Did you enjoy this post? Well, if you do that pleases me! My novel, The Number 3 Mystery Book, is available in paperback here and from Amazon UK here. If you live in the US, you can get it from Amazon US here. Thanks for reading and goodbye.