Today I looked out and it was a wonderful autumn day: blue cloudless sky, no wind and I went to Wisley.
On my way there, I heard several updates about wars and rumours of wars on the car radio but nothing could take away from the beauty of the gardens. I walked around the pinetum and came across a pile of logs labelled as a new residence. There were photos of some of the likely inhabitants, including the stag beetle.
I remembered a charming, earnest little boy whose language I assessed. I don’t know how the topic started but at one moment he told me there were crabs in the woods. I said he might be thinking of stag beetles – but added he might not see them as they are a bit rare. To this he replied piteously, ‘Yes – they were all bombed in the war.’ At the time I could only suggest that some of the woods where they lived might have been damaged. I never laugh if I can help it when one of these non-sequiturs occurs. Later I asked the child’s mother if she could think where his idea came from and she said they were doing Remembrance at school (it being this same time of year: near 11th November). I still couldn’t think of a direct link. Much later I wondered whether ‘doodlebugs’ had something to do with it… Children often have difficulty with the passive voice, for example. What if someone had said, ‘lots of people were killed by doodlebugs’ and he made this an active statement so, for him, the crowds set out to kill bugs? We shall never know for sure. I am convinced that most children do have a definite reason for saying things – what is difficult is spotting the possible real connection, misunderstanding, misconception, mishearing… Or misleading information they have been given!
I continued on my way enjoying the wondrous contents of the huge new glasshouse, with its bananas and hibiscus able to summon up memories of distant places. From the outside, I noticed for the first time that the building reflected in its pool looked very like the standard picture-book version of the ark.
I had decided to ‘beat the bounds’ of the gardens – which put me in mind of meeting the creator of a fabulous collection of photographs at St. David’s Cathedral recently.
My outing was a privilege. How fortunate to be where the only battle was part of a place name in the gardens (Battleston Hill), and the only drone the noise from the adjacent motorway.