Say It With Flow­ers

Jen­nifer and Ali­son need fo­liage – and fast!

The People's Friend - - This Week - by Jan Snook

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.

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