Say It With Flowers
Jennifer and Alison need foliage – and fast!
WE should have thought of it earlier,” Alison said to Jennifer, who was drinking coffee in her kitchen while they planned the first flower-arranging class of the new term.
“How could we have forgotten to tell the students what to bring for tomorrow’s class?
“It won’t be easy to fill two hours with theory and the demonstration for next week’s class,” she finished. Jennifer thought. “Could we find enough foliage for them to do a small greenery arrangement?”
Alison nodded. “Flowers are expensive at this time of year, so it would be good to show them what you can do with just foliage and berries.”
“The trouble is,” Jennifer said ruefully, “there isn’t a lot of foliage in my flat!”
“Don’t worry.” Alison laughed. “I’ve got enough. We could pick it now.”
They went outside, armed with secateurs.
“Oh, dear, there isn’t much left,” Jennifer said when they’d filled three large buckets with a variety of foliage. “Where would you like me to put these?”
“They’d be best in the garage. Would you do that while I put the kettle on?”
Jennifer put the buckets in the garage next to the boys’ bikes, then went back in the house.
“Were the boys happy to go back to school?”
She’d always liked Alison’s sons. She’d watched Charles, Hugo and Toby grow up.
“I suppose Charles must be doing exams any time now, isn’t he?”
“You wouldn’t know it,” Alison said grimly. “There hasn’t been much revision going on. If only there were an A-level in the Highway Code. He’s got his theory test next week.”
“How are the actual driving lessons going?”
“Don’t ask. Richard takes him out for practice when he can, but comes back looking traumatised. And it’s my car they go out in.”
The next day, when Jennifer arrived at Alison’s at six o’clock, it was Alison who looked traumatised. Charles was behind her, looking sheepish.
“I was about to ring you!” Alison said. “I got my car out, ready to pack it . . .”
She led Jennifer into the garage and put on the light.
The floor was awash with broken bits of foliage, torn leaves and squashed berries. On top of them were flattened buckets and a tangle of bicycles. Charles was behind them. “I was practising reversing into the garage,” he said belligerently. “How was I to know there were buckets and stuff there?”
“Never mind that! Where was your dad?”
“He left me to put it away,” Charles muttered.
“More to the point,” Alison said, turning an anguished face to Jennifer, “what are we going to do? The class starts in an hour!”
The two women surveyed the wreckage.
“We can’t pick any more. There’s nothing left worth having in my garden,” Alison mused. “Who could we get some foliage from – fast?”
“Do you think Edna would give us any?” Jennifer suggested, then shook her head. “Wait, she’s out. Matt said she was going late-night shopping with Jean tonight.”
“That’s wonderful,” Alison said, a gleam in her eye. “Ring Matt right away!” “Oh, we can’t! Can we?” Matt met them in Edna’s drive, and 20 minutes later they had filled some cartons (the only receptacles Alison had left) with foliage.
“It’s going to be a lucky dip,” Jennifer murmured as the three of them entered the classroom at five minutes to seven. “It’s not easy picking foliage by torchlight, is it?”
Just as the students were about to leave the class two hours later, Alison and Jennifer heard voices in the corridor.
A moment later Edna and Jean came in.
“Well, your students are certainly improving,” Edna said graciously, surveying their work.
“Of course, it always helps when they have first-rate foliage.”
She was watching Alison, Jennifer and Matthew quizzically. Then, quite suddenly, she smiled.
“It’s all right,” she said. “It was an emergency. And before you ask, we met Richard and Charles while we were shopping and had a little chat. They were out buying buckets . . .”
More next week.