We usually go to Kings Plant Barn when we want to add glamour, colour and culinary aids to our miniscule courtyard. I like Kings. They have well mannered staff who appear helpful without being too invasive. They have a pleasant cafe where a hard working Turkish team prepare nourishing snacks and dispense flat whites and long blacks along with generous glasses of wine of all possible varieties. They also have all the plant species you can possibly imagine, most of which I fail to recognise.
The thing I do not like about Kings, however, is the fact that within minutes of happy browsing I am catapulted back to my fourth form mathematics class and begin to experience the same feeling of helplessness at the total mystery of what surrounds me and the inevitability of never understanding it. All other mid morning browsers seem to be doing so with focus - because they know precisely what they are doing. Just as my classmates of long ago eyed the long division examples and enthusiastically worked on their answers, ladies in their late eighties, in tweed skirts and twin sets examine the various pots of glorious colour with both precision and purpose before making well informed choices - exactly as most of the fourth form attacked simple calculus. Meanwhile I flounder between the rows of herbs lined up like soldiers and reassure myself that even I can recognise Parsley and even Rosemary these days (but Basil not totally reliably and Coriander only by its pungent aroma). But then again even I knew my Times Tables.
Meanwhile the husband, now impatiently glancing at his watch murmers, `If you want time to have a coffee before we go you're going to have to make up your mind.....'
`You choose,' I suggest, adding in a half hearted attempt to sound like someone who knows what they are doing, `How about Basil?'
He reminds me we already have plenty of Basil at home and I make a note to examine it more closely when we get back. Surely I can learn to recognise something as simple as Basil?
`You're not even trying girl,' I hear the long deceased Miss Hart boom from the front of the classroom, `Surely you can recognise a simple square root!'
Ten minutes later safely inside the coffee shop with the finally chosen plants cosily sitting in the boot of the car I make an attempt to explain.
`This place reminds me of my old maths class,' I say, furiously stirring the flat white, `I could never get the hang of things like square roots.'
He gives me a very strange look and glances again at his watch. He tells me he hopes it doesn't rain today because he really would like to get in a game of golf.