Fri. Jun 14th, 2024

As long as the grass still had permanent bald patches where our son had set up his goalposts, we could pretend our house was still full

This year, we thought, we really ought to sort out the garden. The kids are off at university and the dog doesn’t dig holes like he used to. Our lives are changing, and the garden should reflect that.

Like many London gardens, ours is a small rectangle of grass and patio that has, over the decades, been looted for space – a kitchen extension here, a conservatory there. It suits us, having a small garden. We wouldn’t know what to do with anything bigger.

Because we didn’t know what we wanted, we talked to friends and garden designers, and they all said the same thing: “What you want is somewhere to sit out in the evening sipping a glass of wine and watching the sunset.”

On one occasion I had to be brutally murdered in a radio drama and I sent out a pre-apology on the street’s WhatsApp group

Every time I heard it I’d wince a little because I wasn’t sure that was what I wanted really. I mean, I love a good sunset and, for that matter, a glass of wine. But each time I heard “what you want”, I sensed an implicit “at your age”. People like us, empty-nesters, we shouldn’t be bothering ourselves planting stuff. Our fertile days are behind us. From now on, the best we can hope for is to sit on some conveniently placed concrete, getting pissed and watching the daylight wane.

Maybe I was overthinking it, or maybe it’s just that when enough people tell me I want a thing, that’s reason enough for me not to want it.

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