Golly, I’m tired. I woke up at 6 o’clock, quite unnecessarily early and didn’t get up at once – checked my emails in bed however, so as not to waste time – and was out in the greenhouse by 7, getting everything ready for Al. By the time he came out, I had loaded up the car. Remembering to put my eye in, I shot inside and then followed him to the shop…a quick unload and I was back for the second load. Breakfast at 9, a look at the newspaper, off to church, where I’d put myself down as sidesman, for coffee and as organist – home again, quick lunch and then into the garden to start planting.
That’s gone well, actually, and I’ve got broad beans, two sorts of french beans, runner beans, chard and spinach planted out, and the remainder ready for Al to sell. Tomorrow, the courgettes, haricot beans, some lettuce and herb seedlings to plant out and tomatoes to put into final pots, as well as aubergines to pot up. When I arrive home again, there will just be the squashes and sweet corn to plant out, plus anything in the aubergine, tomato and pepper line that there isn’t room for in the greenhouse.
I was so anxious not to waste time that I decided on the time I could spare for each job and set the timer. It’s a method I’ve used for years to get myself going – it’s an illusionary time limit, of course, but it works for me. In fact, I was pretty accurate, and I was done within a minute or two either way each time. I’ve also restocked the trays of plants for Al for tomorrow – each variety of tomato is separate, and everything is clearly labelled. I’m out of outdoor cucumbers, but have been able to replenish his supply of beans and have potted up a few spinach and chard plants as well.
Al was quite indignant yesterday, on behalf of one of the wholesalers’ driver. I was talking to an elderly lady customer whom I haven’t seen for a long time, as she hasn’t been well enough to get out – Al has been delivering to her – and I noticed a woman waiting to talk to him. I didn’t hear any of the conversation, but afterwards he said he’d had a complaint. She had had to wait while his daily ordered was delivered at 7.30 that morning.
The road by the shop is narrow (and one-way), but there’s just room for one vehicle to pass another. However, cars had been -illicitly – parked on the double yellow lines overnight so, when the van stopped in its usual place, cars couldn’t pass to the left of it. She complained bitterly that she’d had to wait, and so had other drivers.
“Suffolk and what?” was my reaction, I admit – I know how quickly the deliveries are made, and how cheerfully, and I respect the hard work of the delivery men, who start their working day at some time before 3 am, loading their vans with the daily orders, in the right order for delivery, driving for several hours to do their rounds and never missing a day, whatever the weather – they’ve been late a few times during the snowy periods but they’ve never let Al down. “Too lazy to walk a few extra yards, that’s his trouble”, nagged the woman. I’d love to see her lift half-hundredweights (25 kilos), portly as she was, never mind carry them an inch further than necessary. A lazy person wouldn’t turn up for the second day.
From his report of the conversation, although Al stuck up for the driver, he was more polite than I’d have been. I was indignant, and afterwards apologised to Al’s Saturday boy (who is a pupil at the High School) for my outspoken language. He was more amused than offended.
Al is pretty unhappy at the thought of losing him after the summer. He’s about to take his GCSEs (that is, the exams taken at the age of 16 at the end of compulsory education) and has gained an apprenticeship at Sizewell – one of 26 out of 170 applicants. He’s going to do his initial training in Portsmouth, so has handed in his notice. Al has only once had a young employee so intelligent, reliable and good-natured. He’ll be very hard to replace.