A number of years ago now - as a child - I remember moving into a new
and with it acquiring a considerable garden that over-looked the river.
One side of this garden was bounded by leylandii hedging that separated us
from our neighbour, an eccentric naval officer (retired) called Mr.
a man passionate about drinking, playing bridge and tending to his lawn -
lawn, incidentally, that he kept well groomed and immaculate for he spent
long hours digging clover and daisies from it with a knife and fork. But
had another passion as well, a passion manifested during night-time hours
one which gave rise to some concern in our household: a passion for
rabbits. Nothing disturbing about that of course, no, not unless you're a
rabbit, only this was conducted by searchlight (ex-Navy surplus, I
or possibly 'requisitioned' from a Gun Boat or a Destroyer) and swivel
mounted to the ledge outside his bedroom window.
And so, with an air rifle attached to his upper body, and clad only in
pyjamas, he took well-illuminated pot shots at startled rabbits on the
His aim was invariably inaccurate, I recall, complimented no doubt by
numerous gin and tonics, and as a consequence many pellets passed straight
through the hedge and into our greenhouse. Some of these rogue pellets
had the audacity to pass through both walls of the greenhouse and mutilate
giant Bergenia Cordifolia ('Elephant's Ears') on the other side.
enough, though, the pellets didn't break the glass at all, no, not a
pane, but bored perfect holes straight through them. As you might imagine
father was not amused by this situation, no, in fact he was furious.
In this day and age, of course, the spectre of 'Garden Rage' might
itself in an ugly scene over the garden fence after such unneighbourly
conduct, perhaps even a slap on the head with a mutilated Bergenia, but
was in more tolerant times: times when public rage was something akin to
admission of mental incapacity and a diplomatic word or two over the
fence was more readily employed to resolve such matters.
Mind you, I never did discover what was said all those years ago over the
garden fence, but night-time warfare against rabbits ceased and the
greenhouse acquired new glass, so whatever it was, it must have been
(Copy right 2002 Patrick Vickery)