Z is sociable, and remembers the time when she Listened to Gossip

I have, remarkably, a highly sociable few days coming up. Tomorrow we are going here with ‘Delightful Next Village’ Gardening Club and on Tuesday evening we are visiting this nursery at Attleborough, with the ‘DNV’ WI. These are fabulous roses and we’ve always bought from him.

Years ago – oh, nearly twenty years, it was when my mother had just come to live next door – we drove over there to choose climbing roses to go over her garden fence. We had a lovely hour or two looking round the nursery and choosing plants and then got back in her car to go home.

As we drove along, she offered to tell me a Great Secret. Keenly – for it was obviously a good one – I promised that the word would be Mum. She told me that her best friend had told her that, while walking the dogs, she had spotted two people kissing each other passionately the other side of the hedge. These were two well-known locals, both married to other people, he with a slightly roving pair of hands but no known reputation, the other squeaky clean and both Pillars of the Community.

I ‘oohed’ and ‘aahed’ in a most satisfactory way, and we were having a lovely time dishing the dirt, when we noticed a couple of policemen waving at us. Well, hello! But no, one of them had a speed gun in his hand.

One one side of the road was a hedge and on the other, set well back, was a row of council houses with their own slip road. There were, however, street lights. Mummy rolled down the window. “Was I driving too fast?” she asked anxiously. “I’m afraid you were,” answered the policeman. She looked stricken and explained. “I’m so sorry. We don’t live here and we’ve just been shopping at PB roses, and we’ve been having such a nice chat and I’m afraid I didn’t realise we were still in the village. Is it a 30 limit? How fast was I going?”

“It is, and I’m afraid that you were driving at nearly 40 mph.” We both apologised again and Mummy steeled herself for her first ever driving ticket. “You won’t ever do that again,” added the policeman, “will you?” “No, I never will,” she said humbly.

He straightened up. We glanced sidelong at each other, not sure what to say. Were we to wait? We waited. Nothing happened. “Er, thank you,” said my mother. “Er, goodbye.” “Goodbye, madame,” said the policeman.

We waited until we were well down the road before bursting into peals of girlish laughter.

Oh, and I didn’t tell a soul about the gossip. Not for about ten years, and then I told the Sage. “She told me that too,” he said. “And swore me to secrecy.”

15 comments on “Z is sociable, and remembers the time when she Listened to Gossip

  1. PI

    What a delightful story and what a happy memory of your mum. Allegedly I went through a red light after driving the length of England after visiting my son at Uni. I had driven for hours with the sun in my eyes. ‘You can’t con a copper’ he said, so my helpless flower went for a burton and a thirty pound fine in the seventies really hurt.

  2. Z

    It came naturally to her, Steg. I did it too, a few years ago, with similar results.

    ‘Allegedly’ indeed, Pat. You’ve only got his word for it.

  3. Z

    I wonder if, in those days, people were sniffy about all these new-fangled words this uppity playwright was putting into the language?

    Thank you, honey.

  4. Z

    Ooh, I’ll look for you, Murph. You will know me, for I will be the madly waving one in the coachful of fifty-somethings* and their husbands.

    *Average age of our WI

  5. martina

    What a fun memory of your mom. Ooh that Hall looks like something extraordinary. The roses look pretty too but since I have a hedge of 75 pink simplicity roses no more room for new ones. Cousin traditionally gives me a very large bag of alfalfa meal for the roses on my birthday (June). The roses really thrive with this amendment. Now if only the darned black spot would disappear…

  6. Z

    They are lovely, aren’t they, Stitchwort – old-fashioned in appearance, but repeat flowering. All the virtues!

    Martina, your hedge must look gorgeous right now. I haven’t come across alfalfa meal – sprouts as a salad, or grown as a green manure or animal feed, but not dried (I suppose). We hardly get blackspot, funnily enough – it’s supposed to be worse in the country than in town.

  7. Z

    There are different sorts of secrets – if someone confides in you, which is a compliment and which you don’t want to tell: if you find out something interesting and (preferably) salacious and really would love to pass on (no one did about this couple, they are both still with their respective spouses, still respectable): and your own guilty or delightful secret, which you might or might not tell. I think this last is the hardest not to confide.

  8. Dandelion

    Mine is a combination of the first and the second type of secret. I am itching to tell it, but propriety forbids me. It’s a confidence. Part of me is scared I might tell it by accident, or when I’m drunk.

  9. Z

    I suppose you could tell just one person, if you could trust him or her enough and if that would get it out of your system, but otherwise you are stuck with it!

  10. Dandelion

    Well, it would only be worth telling to someone who knows the people involved. And that would rather defeat the object, because the whole point is that no-one that knows them must know. Except me. And I’m also not to ever let on that I knew before anyone else either. That’s a life-long commitment.


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