I know now, after my few years of working in a public garden, that different nationalities have very definite characteristics. Our native Irish lot are mad into the potato plots and Lupins (for the ladies), the Brits like to annunciate their extraordinary pleasure whilst imparting their obvious extensive horticultural knowledge in a passive aggressive competitive conversation, the French like to watch you silently, Spaniards are a necky lot and will try and find ways to garner every possible potential of the garden space. The Japanese are polite, eager and full of selfies, the Danish talk to you matter of factly, usually about it not raining, or rain, depending on the situation. Americans coo and wowzer over whatever it is you’re doing, even if you’re smearing manure around the base of a rose.

Then there are the Germans. We had a German student in for a few months and he was a bit mad, but you can’t base a whole nation’s tendencies on one man’s strangeness. Except that you can (sorry German people). Coach tour time seems to bring them out, when hoards of European cruisers scuff their way round the gravel paths, taking random snap-shots of anything with a flower adornment, plead for the location of the toilets, grab a packet of crisps and then leave, all in the space of fourty minutes. Some of them make idle chat.. or just do weird shit.

Last year, a tourist (German), asked me for a photo and then proceeded to slap me on the side of the arse shouting “Very gud jha!” not just once, but repeatedly! Then today, as I knelt on the edge of the border pulling up spent tulips, a tourist (German), hovered above me, in my personal space.. and breeaathed.. slowly… and deeply… When I turned and stared up at him and said hello, he moved away next to the near-by wheelbarrow where he proceeded to look at me, smiling and snap the spent bulbs from their stems and fill his suit jacket pockets.

Humans! We’re all a bit mad really. I like the way trainers look on parquet flooring and used to have a ritualistic way of eating oxo cubes. *shrugs.


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