Monday, 18 April 2011


'Well, this is very nice, isn't it?' says Mrs Slocombe.
'Indeed,' says Mrs Pumphrey.
'A herb garden, I understand?' says Mrs Slocombe.
'If one is being grammatically correct, then it's an 'erb garden, as the letter 'h' is treated as a vowel in cases of pronunciation,' says Mrs Pumphrey. 'Like in 'I went to an hotel'.'
'Really?' says Mrs Slocombe. 'That's interesting. Which hotel?'
'I haven't been to an hotel,' says Mrs Pumphrey.
'But you just said you had,' says Mrs Slocombe.
'It was an example,' says Mrs Pumphrey. 'To illustrate the correct use of 'a' and 'an' before words that start with the letter 'h'.'

'Oh,'says Mrs Slocombe. 'So, let me see if I've got this right. Er...I saw an helephant in the garden this morning.'

Mrs Pumphrey looks at Mrs Slocombe. She knows, deep in her little chicken heart, that no amount of training at finishing school for hens is going to rub the rough edges from this one.

'If you like,' she sighs. 'Let's go back to sampling, shall we?'

The hens continue their promenade around the herb garden.
'What's this?' says Mrs Slocombe, nibbling at a tufty green morsel.
Mrs Pumphrey studies the label. 'Salad Burnett,' she says. 'Apparently, it tastes like cucumber.'
'Do you know, it does,' agrees Mrs Slocombe.

'Will you two bl**dy chickens leave my bl**dy herbs alone!' comes a shriek from the other side of the garden. There follows through the air an empty plastic flower pot, which Mrs Slocombe neatly sidesteps.
'Ignore her,' says Mrs Pumphrey. 'She's been ill.'
'I'll say,' says Mrs Slocombe, 'her shot is well off. What's this one?'
'Lovage,' says Mrs Pumphrey. 'And that one is angelica.'
'I like them both enormously,' says Mrs Slocombe. 'Not keen on the cotton lavender, though. It's a bit...a bit...'
'Cottony?' says Mrs Pumphrey.
'That's the badger!' says Mrs Slocombe.

The hens continue around the herb garden, avoiding missiles like old pros, and trying to get in one last nibble before Andy cages off all the new baby herbs with chicken wire and a willow fence, just for good measure.

'Why are there three empty spaces?' says Mrs Slocombe.
'Ah,' says Mrs Pumphrey. 'Denise has just put some borage, dill and lemon verbena seeds in the propogater. Those are herb-spaces-in-waiting.'

'I look forward very much to trying all three,' says Mrs Slocombe.'
'Me, too,' says Mrs Pumphrey. 'I understand borage flowers look really pretty floating in a glass of Pimms.'
'Denise's great-great-great grandfather invented Pimms, you know,' says Mrs Slocombe.
'Really?' says Mrs Pumphrey. 'Well, I haven't heard that one before.'

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