I was tidying up Christmas decorations in my grandparents house when I reached into a large plastic box, the sort my grandparents store baubles in eleven months of the year, up in the roof. And ouch. My finger hurt. Sharp pricks in my skin. A brush with something sharp.
I peered inside the box for a better look, and discovered, to my astonishment, a cactus.
Round, pale green and spiky, I carefully picked it up and showed it to the Grandmother
She wasn’t at all surprised. She knew there was a cactus in the box. She had already stuck her hand in and pricked herself that morning. And then she’d done nothing about it. She was mildly amused that the cactus had survived what she assumed was a full twelve months in the box, but otherwise unperturbed by the situation.
Personally I think she should have been more bothered, bothered enough not to leave it in the box with the baubles waiting for the next poor soul to reach inside.
“Put it in the bin,” the Grandmother said.
So, as a dutiful granddaughter, I placed the cactus by the compost bin.
A short while later I heard a commotion in the kitchen as the Grandfather discovered the cactus and decided to investigate. It was, he claimed, very much alive. Just in need of replanting.
The Grandmother insisted that the cactus be binned.
A short while later the Grandfather was seen trying to find a home on one of the overcrowded windowsills in the back bedroom of my grandparents’ house, a room filled with more plastic boxes, bags, cardboard and evidence of Christmas. The Grandmother, well, she was heard to be rather disparaging about his efforts.
Tensions were rising.
Which is when, as the dutiful granddaughter, I stepped in and volunteered to rehome the cactus. Now obviously, you can’t take a cactus in your hand luggage to Spain… so I wonder how it’s going to appreciate the care of its new warden… the Mother.