Posts Tagged ‘R J Dent’s memoirs’

My Father’s Garden: Incinerator by R J Dent

May 7, 2016

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One evening, about a week after the plum tree/creosote/bomb incident, my father rolled a very large empty oil drum down to the bottom of the garden. He rolled it noisily down the path, right to the end of the garden, rolled it in a sharp left turn, then stopped and stood it up so that it was screened by the lilac bushes.

I got up and wandered down the garden, followed by my brother. As I got nearer, I could see that my father was putting some bricks on the ground, arranging them in a roughly square symmetrical pattern. Intrigued, I stood back and watched, not sure what was going on. I didn’t really know what I was seeing – was it some obscure pagan ritual; a valiant attempt to contact alien life forms; my dad’s workaday version of Stonehenge, or something so obscure that it hadn’t been heard of by anyone other than my father? As my dad stood up – all of the bricks now obviously in their rightful positions – I had a feeling that I was about to find out.

– What’s he doing? my brother whispered.

– I don’t know yet, I answered. Let’s wait and see.

– Okay, my brother said, cheerfully enough.

And so we waited, watching carefully and quietly as our dad stood the empty oil drum on the bricks. Then he knelt down on the ground, picked up a hammer and a metal chisel and proceeded to knock holes in the side of the oil drum, about four inches up from the bottom. He made a hole, then moved the chisel a few inches to the left and made another hole, then repeated the process and made another hole, working his way around the oil drum until there were several holes all the way around its base.

– He’s making air-holes.

– What for?

– So an animal can breathe in there.

– What animal?

– Whatever animals like oil.

– Penguins.

– Petrels.

– Sardines.

– Oil lamps.

– Oil lamps aren’t animals.

– No, but they like oil and they need air-holes.

– You’re an air-hole.

We would have started trading insults at that point, but our father stood up abruptly, looked over at us, and asked what we were doing. Read more…

 

 

My Father’s Garden: Incinerator

Copyright © R J Dent 2014

 

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My Father’s Garden: Fireworks by R J Dent

January 25, 2016

 

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Bonfire Night was always fun.

Bonfires are great and fireworks are even greater.

My father never bought lots of fireworks on Bonfire Night – there were never more than eight to ten in a box, but there were Catherine Wheels, Roman Candles, Fountains, Jumping Jacks, Bottle Rockets, Fire Crackers – and we always had Sparklers.

I don’t mean to sound churlish, but sparklers are not the most exciting type of firework in existence. You light them, wave them around, they fizz and sparkle for a minute, then they die. They’re the firework world’s equivalent to the mayfly. One great (or in the mayfly’s case, not-so-great) aerial incendiary burst, and then gone, done, nothing left but the inevitable fall… Read more…

 

 

 

My Father’s Garden: Greenhouse by R J Dent

May 5, 2014

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Greenhouse

 

1: Frame

 

Several lengths of silver angle-iron had been in the garden for over a week before my father acknowledged their existence.

      – Ah, yes. I’d better put that together, he said cryptically, one morning.

      Later on, he’d assembled several lengths of the angle-iron into a cube-shaped frame.

      – What are you making, dad?

      – Assembling.

      – What are you assembling, dad?

      – A greenhouse. With a gable roof.

      – Are you going to grow anything in it?

      – No, I thought I’d leave it empty for years, and then knock it down.

      – Oh. What for?

      – Not really. I’m going to grow tomatoes in it. Read more…

 

 

My Father’s Garden: Greenhouse

Copyright © R J Dent (2014)

 

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My Father’s Garden: Summer House and Brewery by R J Dent

April 29, 2014

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Summer House

 

Once my father realised that my sister never went near, let alone into, the tree house he’d built for her, he decided to dismantle it and build a summer house instead.

          For the next few evenings, he very carefully disassembled the tree house and stacked all of the individual pieces against the shed wall.

          He then drew a plan of the new summer house. He used a piece of butcher’s paper and a wax crayon, and then explained the diagram to me.

          – It’s got a hexagonal back and sides and a flat front for maximum sunlight capture.

          I nodded, wondering about the ‘maximum sunlight capture’.

          Anyway, within a week, my father had built a summer house. It looked exactly like the one in his diagram, which ordinarily would have been a positive factor or a compliment, but which, in this case, was not.

          It was a wooden structure that looked a lot like a very large sentry box. The back and sides nodded at hexagonality; the front was two huge sliding patio doors.

          – It looks like a public lavatory, my brother said.

          – It’s a bit open-fronted for that, my father protested.

          – That’s why I said ‘public’. Read more…

 

 

My Father’s Garden: Summer House and Brewery

Copyright © R J Dent (2014)

 

 

My Father’s Garden: Caravan by R J Dent

April 28, 2014

 

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Caravan

 

There was considerable excitement in our family when our mother mentioned that we might be getting a caravan. We talked it up into something more than it was, so that when it finally arrived on our drive, it was something of an anticlimax.

          The caravan itself was a bit scruffy; it would need painting before it was ready for use.

          My father, as ever, was ready for the challenge.

          He and my mother debated the colour-scheme.

          – Beige is nice, my father said.

          – Dove grey is nicer.

          – Pale green’s quite nice.

          – Dove grey is nicer.         

          – Magnolia’s nice too.

          – Dove grey is nicer.

          – I think dove grey would look nice, my father said, but only if it’s contrasted with a brighter colour – something like maroon or lime green.

          – You can paint the roof maroon, my mother said, but the rest of the outside needs to be dove grey. Read more…

 

My Father’s Garden: Caravan

Copyright © R J Dent (2014)

 

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My Father’s Garden: Wagon Wheel by R J Dent

March 17, 2014

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1: Tyre

 

– Some gardens have a wagon wheel in them, my mother said.

          – What for? my father asked.

          – For decoration. It leans against the house wall as a decorative feature.

          – I see. Well, I might be able to get hold of one for you, my father said.

          – Oh, good. That’d be nice.

          My father’s first attempt was a dismal failure; he brought home a huge tractor tyre.

          It was taller than he was.

          My father rolled it into the front garden and leaned it against the house wall. It loomed there gigantically as he went to find my mother.

          – Oh, no, that’s not right, my mother said, on being shown the tyre.

          – Is it not? my father asked, clearly surprised.

          – Well, it’s not a wagon wheel, is it?

          – It’s very similar.

          – Not really. Wagon wheels are made of wood or metal and have spokes. This is a spoke-free rubber monstrosity. It needs to go. Read more…

My Father’s Garden: Wagon Wheel

Copyright © R J Dent (2014)

 

Other stories from My Father’s Garden by R J Dent can be found at:

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