Camaraderie

Week 30 – Camaraderie

Definition: the mutual trust and friendship among people who spend a lot of time together.

Coal miners would work together side by side, underground for hours on end. I imagine this intense experience was often difficult but ultimately (when you had a good friend by your side) hugely rewarding. I like to think that Alan and I have the same camaraderie whilst we work at our living ‘coal face’. Our latest living wall is 10m long and has taken us two weeks to complete.

We set up our kit ready for the day ahead. The village is a quiet place and Alan doesn’t like to disturb his neighbours so we respectfully wait until 9am before we start. We chat and joke. We talk about all manner of things but mostly we talk a lot about the plants we love. We exchange opinions on what we think are ‘definite winners’ in our latest planting scheme. We’re testing out a couple of new ones. The pros and cons of Muehlenbeckia and Persicaria affines ‘Superba’ are discussed at length.

We listen to the radio, often working for long periods without talking. There’s a local airfield nearby and we watch spellbound as a Spitfire roars overhead. This is a magical moment. I feel like an excited child. The conversation sparks up again. I went to see the brilliant new film Dunkirk last week. I talk about the film and how it reminds me to make the most of my life in this time of turmoil. We watch the birds dancing around us. I like to think the bullfinch, wren, woodpecker, occasional buzzard and countless wood pigeons are all watching us, wondering what we’re doing.

Radio 6 is our station of choice. Alan is continually amused by my lack of musical knowledge. Who’s this? I say. It’s Skepta, he won the mercury music prize last year!! Oh, I reply. And who’s this!? It’s brilliant. It’s Kate Tempest and she’s one of this years Mercury Prize nominations. The lyrics are visceral, a bit like the film (Dunkirk) I saw a few days earlier. Kate Tempest is an English poet, spoken-word artist and playwright. (www.katetempest.co.uk) She’s got my vote.

“Kettle on” is the call that goes up when one or the other of us feels it time for tea. We have regular tea breaks. Mug in hand we stand back and look at what has been achieved and how we think the wall is coming on. We break for lunch. Alan picks some tomatoes and courgettes from his poly tunnel and we rustle up some pasta. We pick some blackberries and cut back the encroaching brambles.

It’s sunny and hot. It rains. We take cover. The wind blows through and it’s sunny again. “Four seasons in one day” says Alan like some sort of football pundit. We finish for the day, pack away and walk 200 meters to his local and have a pint. Alan goes out for the evening with Alison whilst I babysit Sidney who’s going to be five on Saturday (Happy Birthday Sid). We carry on like this for days and then, as if by magic the wall is suddenly finished. We agree this is a ‘good wall’. One of our best. We’re both happy. Let me get a photo of you for the blog I say… Alan finds this very amusing. As you can see.