Sadly only two of them. My sister started a kind of tradition of buying me one – well, buying me a small something from the concrete-somethings-place, when she came over. And somehow they always turned out to be worms. They are mating at the moment, or at least engaging in some pretty intense courtship. Often, however, they are just having a chat, chastely at right angles to one another.
I always assumed I was behind all these worm-repositionings until, every now and then, I would find they had moved of their own volition, taking up poses I would never have thought of. I thought maybe it was Charlie from over the road. People do tend to wander in and out, round here. You soon learn to put a dressing gown over your nightie before going into the kitchen. Charlie was occasionally to be spotted somewhere down among the brambles, looking for his blind old dog, or his black and white cat (who much prefers me). But somehow – I didn’t think Charlie had the wit to rearrange a worm.
I now think it might have been assorted delivery drivers. Before lockdown/shielding, the standard thing for Amazon parcels etc was to go round the back and leave them there. I was rarely away for that long. But since I’ve had to be in virtually all of the time, the worms seemed have ceased their unauthorised wiggling. Poor delivery drivers – they can’t get much amusement, on their never-ending circuits. I never really minded…
I was quietly hoping for another worm to add to my collection – a wormage-a-trois, as you might say, but my sister is unlikely to be over from Canada any time soon. Maybe, whenever – if ever – it feels safe to actually go somewhere and buy something, I will make a pilgrimage to the concrete-something-place, meandering joyfully among as yet unpainted gnomes, naked nymphs and praying-hands birdbaths, just glad to be – ah, shopping! And if there should still be worms, I will purchase one.
Whereas for women that visceral, instinctive – now missing – necessity seems to be the leisurely shop – the browsing, the pondering, the calculating – for men it seems to be building garden sheds. There are so many men round here – white van men, small tradesmen, that sort of chap – and since lockdown there has been one bags-of-sand delivery lorry after another along our road. The lorries come with their own cranes to lift the bags, and every front garden now has its untidy heap of materials. Garden sheds seem to be the favourite.
The man down the bottom from me – the one who cut down my tree – has been threatening for years to put up in its place, between his garden and mine, “a nice row of sheds”. Now he is out there with a hired roller, flattening the ground in readiness. All day long he and his mate shout instructions at one another. What is is with men, that they can’t just talk to one another when engaged in joint projects? Why has everything got to be high volume?