Horticulture and vocabulary lessons from the 60-something gentleman wearing baggy brown trousers, a green polo shirt and a navy dress shirt over that (unbuttoned) and a houndstooth sport coat, drab (also unbuttoned), nondescript loafers (the laces ragged and trailing), brow furrowed, even when smiling, done often and well despite the absence of the four top front teeth traditionally foremost in the act:
I was talkin’ to meself, did’n see you there. Wha’s that? You did’n hear me? Tha’s wha they all say. You get more sense, anyway, talkin’ to yourself. You hear that? You get more sense. Tha’s some beautiful American or Canadian you’re after speakin’ there you’ll notice I said both ’cause I can’ detect the one over t’other so I’m coverin’ all me bases. Californian? So you’d know all about raisins, then. Raisins, we’d call that currants, a nicer word that. You ever picked raisins? Grapes! Yeah, youse have the wevver for it: sun. You know in Canada they are famous for their wheat. You know why? They go’ the sun at jus’ the right time for wheat, an’ for nine weeks. I watched a whole documennery abou’ wheat when my muvver was to home before she died and I stayin’ wif her, and do you know I was tha’ interested tha’ I never heard the sounds of the traffic outside, the sun went down and I never had me tea or nothin’. Spellbound. If you was wheat, you know wha’ you’d do? “Oi! I’m goin’ to Canada me,” you’d say, it’s tha’ nice for wheat. Strawberries? If you have time, you go right out to the left of the swim centre an’ they have a patch, not this big, wif all the herbs wha’ we’re famous for here, and strawberries. The bigger th’strawberry the less sweet. D’you know tha’ black currants have more vittuhmin C in’ em per, per, I don’t know wha’ but per piece a fruit anyway. La’er this week I go to see a man with see here I guess you have hectares in America? Whaddyou use for big plots of land? Acres, is it? Tha’s an old word, you stole tha’ word from us. Tha’s a good word. Well le’s say that an acre is the size of a football pitch, minus the stadium mind, and this paper says he has ten acre of soft fruit. WELL, three acre of tha’ is black currant. You had black currant cordial? No? Elderflower you say? Why, tha’s elderflower righ’ there t’other side a the tracks. Puts me in a mind to get some. If you wen’ into one o’ them, wha’ you call it, garden centres, and asked for elderberry bush, they’d look a’ you like you we’re mad. I’ just grows, like righ’ there. You don’ havva bung it in the groun’. You like fennel? Smells like a lady’s drink. Like Pernod. You’ve had Pernod? Well you get a waft…nice word that, “waft”, innit? You get a wafta fennel, i’s just like Pernod! You could give tha’ to an alcoholic, like, an’ they migh’ have the wobblies a bi’, bu’ if you wha’youcallit, it you diffuse, tha’s a nice word, diffuse some fennel into water, like, and give tha’ to someone addicted to the drink you’d have ’em out of it in a few weeks, likin’ fennel instead sayin’, “Mmm, I like tha’, gimme morea tha’!” You here much longer? Glasgow! Ah, you’ll be drinkin’ whiskeys, then. They have whiskey in America but they don’ do it like the Scotch. You know why? On account they do it nat’ral: the spring water, the peat smokin’. You know how I know? Tha’s righ’, I watched a documennery about it. I went wif some mates for a James Bond film and before the film – I slept through half the film we was mean’ to see, bu’ I was mesmerised by this 45 minute documennery beforehan’. They smoke the barley you know, in wha’ they call an ost. Old word tha’, “ost”. There’s a pub in Kent, you been to Kent? There’s a pub in Kent they call the Osthouse. They was so tall, the grain buildings, so you could build a fire underneath and fill ’em with the smoke for smoking. You seen an ost? They look like a funny chimney, all invert’d, to keep the smoke down to ge’ a’ the barley. I’m goin’ to Sudbury proper t’day and later have a drink. I been to the library once so no goin’ back there. O’ course they were helpful a’ the library when you wen’ there tha’s their job. They ge’ paid and paid well to stan’ behind tha’ counter. Sometime you get an ignoramus…ignoramus, tha’s a good word, innit? An ignoramus jus’ talkin’ ‘bou their holidays. I worked with this woman once, for weeks a’ break, all she talk abou’s her holidays. She bough’ a house off the council for, she squeaked it ou’ for forty or fifty you know why? The police ha’ torn i’ all up. One o’ them drug houses. They was growin’ drugs there. How’d I know? I delivered the equipment. Did’n know wha’ it were for, but coulda ha’ me fingerprints on it, my friends says to me, “Imagine!” But no coppers come callin’ for me and they tore tha’ house righ’ up, ‘lectrical, plumbin’, so she got it for a song. Anyway my hand’s clean shake hands then. Safe journey. Wha’? You did’n learn nuffin’.