A good life reincarnated in the 'burbs
A FAVOURITE television show of mine long ago in the 1970s was The Good Life, starring Richard Briers and Felicity Kendal.
I was just a kid, but as I was actually growing up on a farm, the concept of a couple aspiring to be self-sufficient on a quarter-acre block in the 'burbs of London was both amusing and inspiring.
Fast forward too many years and here I am, living not in the suburbs but in a small seaside village. I do have a slightly larger block than Tom and Barbara Good which, when I bought the property two years ago, was devoid of plant life. The previous owners were in the business of "flipping” houses and had an entirely portable garden made up of spiky things in pots that they loaded onto the back of a truck when I moved in.
I am not tempted to acquire a Pinky or Perky Pig or a Geraldine the Goat that often caused havoc for the Goods, but I do now grow most of my own vegetables and a respectable quantity of citrus fruit. Picking a Tahitian lime for my evening G&T imparts a sense of satisfaction - particularly when they are selling for $2 each at the supermarket - and a warm glow (or maybe that's just the gin).
I do, however, have a real life Tom and Barbara living right across the street. Dave and Tessa have transformed their garden into an organic mini-farm, complete with fruit trees, veggie garden, beehive and chooks.
I have been on the receiving end of their largesse, just as they have mine. Couldn't be better, really.
Apart from the chooks.
They started out with a flock of six who duly started laying eggs after a few weeks. Then about four months later, Dave and I crossed paths while walking our dogs and he expressed concern that one of the hens was becoming too dominant. He'd caught Arabella, some sort of crested bantam with a hairstyle like Don King's, having a "piggyback” on one of the other, larger chooks. As neither Dave nor Tessa grew up on a farm, I had to explain what the piggybacking actually was.
So Arabella is now Owen, who wakes the neighbourhood at 4.30am. For me it's the sound of home; the sound of a good life. For our other neighbours, maybe not so much.