Look At The State Of Your Gar­den!

Woman's Weekly (UK) - - Short Story By Elizabeth Dale -

Bossy Mar­jorie was de­ter­mined to keep the vil­lage up to scratch – but could any­thing dis­tract her from tor­ment­ing her neigh­bours? The trou­ble was, Mar­jorie had far too much time on her hands

The bang­ing on her door was so loud, so in­sis­tent, Cathy thought a ma­jor catas­tro­phe must be im­mi­nent.

But it was only her neigh­bour Mar­jorie.

‘I just had to knock,’

Mar­jorie panted. ‘You ob­vi­ously haven’t no­ticed the state of your gar­den!’

‘What do you mean?’

‘Just look at all those weeds!’ ‘I like dan­de­lions…’

Cathy be­gan.

‘Don’t be silly!’ Mar­jorie laughed. ‘Now spring’s here, you need to keep on top of your gar­den. Af­ter all, we want to win the Best Kept Vil­lage com­pe­ti­tion, don’t we?’

‘Do we?’

‘Of course we do! Ru­mour has it the judges are com­ing this week!’ Mar­jorie con­tin­ued.

‘Ru­mour had it they were com­ing last week…’

‘Which means it’s im­mi­nent. Look, no time to ar­gue, I must see ev­ery­one in the street. The gar­dens are a dis­grace!’

Cathy sighed. She’d planned to clean the house, but in­stead she found her­self dig­ging, weed­ing and trim­ming.

She glanced down the road. Poor Emily was strug­gling with her lawn­mower. At her age!

‘Emily!’ Cathy cried, hur­ry­ing up. ‘I thought your son mowed your lawns?’

Emily stopped, look­ing fraz­zled. ‘Yes, but he can’t come un­til Satur­day and Mar­jorie says I must cut it to­day.’ Cathy gave vent to her feel­ings as she mowed Emily’s lawn. That Mar­jorie was such an in­ter­fer­ing busy­body! If she wasn’t be­ing the gar­den po­lice, she was pil­ing guilt on any­one who wouldn’t make twenty ted­dies and run a stall at the Christ­mas bazaar.

The trou­ble was, Mar­jorie had far too much time on her hands. She needed a real cause to get her teeth into. That would stop her dis­rupt­ing the lives of ev­ery­one around her.

And then, the very next week, a real cause ma­te­ri­alised.

‘Have you heard?’ Cathy cried. ‘The Manor House is up for sale… and a de­vel­oper’s in­ter­ested in it.’

Mar­jorie went pale. ‘No!

That house is a fea­ture of the vil­lage. The grounds are mag­nif­i­cent. A de­vel­oper will bull­doze ev­ery­thing and put up twenty houses…’

‘Blocks of flats, I’ve heard.’ Mar­jorie al­most fainted. ‘They can’t! I’ll or­gan­ise a pe­ti­tion, bar­ri­cade the coun­cil of­fices. We must stop them!’

For four won­der­ful weeks ev­ery­one’s gar­dens were left in peace. Mar­jorie was in her el­e­ment. Ev­ery­one shook when she thumped the mayor’s desk and de­manded he ful­fil his civic duty. So of course he did.

‘You were bril­liant!’ Cathy told her af­ter­wards.

‘Oh, I loved it!’ Mar­jorie said. ‘This has got me fired up. We should do more to trea­sure this vil­lage. We could clean out the pond, have a Spring flower show. Cathy, you can or­gan­ise it. I’ll call round next week to get you started.’

When Mar­jorie came over as promised, Cathy got in first. ‘I’ve got bad news,’ she said. ‘Don’t tell me you haven’t got time…’

‘I’m talk­ing about The

Manor House. Ru­mour has it the coun­cil want it to be an ad­dic­tion re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion cen­tre.’

‘No!’ Mar­jorie whis­pered. ‘We’ll have to stop it.’

‘I’m afraid we can’t. Change of use has al­ready been agreed.’

‘Have you told any­one else?’ asked Mar­jorie.

‘No, it’s top-se­cret.’

‘Well, keep it that way!’ ‘What? Don’t you want to make a fuss?’

‘No! We need to keep this quiet. I’m sell­ing up while

I can. If I move fast I can sell at a good price and get away from those… peo­ple. If you’ve got any sense you’ll do the same!’

In no time at all, Mar­jorie had sold up and moved away. Af­ter she’d gone, the re­lief in the vil­lagers was pal­pa­ble.

‘No more nag­ging about the state of our gar­dens,’ said Cathy with a sigh.

‘I still don’t un­der­stand why she left,’ Emily said. ‘I mean, she’d stopped the Manor

House re­de­vel­op­ment… Do we know who’s bought it?’

Sally smiled. ‘This re­ally dishy busi­ness­man is mov­ing in – and he’s sin­gle! How Mar­jorie would’ve swooped on him! She’d never have left if she’d known.’

Cathy smiled. How bril­liant that the ru­mour about the re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion cen­tre had been wrong.

But then, ru­mours of­ten are – Mar­jorie of all peo­ple should’ve known that.

Look how many times she’d ‘heard’ that the Best Kept Vil­lage in­spec­tors were com­ing, and then they hadn’t!

Two could play at her game…

THE END

© El­iz­a­beth Dale, 2018

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