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A Lawn Ornament, It Wasn't

The Plot So Far

The car has gone. Finally.

Not that "car" was the most apt term for the charred twist of rusted metal it had become. Over the three months it took up residence among the debris of what had been Bob's allotment shed, it had undergone elemental transmogrification. More than one plot-holder, unlocking the security gate by Bob's place, suggested mischievously he should plant cucumbers or tomatoes in it.

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Bob had not touched his plot in the winter. (Actually, it's his daughter-in-law's plot, but he does all the hard labor. Allotment rules permit a relative to work your plot, but no one else.)

The first time I saw Bob was two days after the mysterious nocturnal arrival of "the car." "It's come at just the wrong time," he said. "Just when I want to start planting."

Bob's plot is by a bend in the park road. If a driver chooses not to negotiate this bend he will (he did) end up, via hawthorn hedges and fencing wire, in the middle of Bob's hut. Allotment sheds are traditionally make-and-mend affairs (though the one I've inherited, unusually of standard manufacture, is in pretty good nick). But even so, demolishment by UFO is not part of the plan.

I call the driver "he." But ensuing allotment rumor - which I am learning to take with a handful of salt - had it that it was "two lads." Someone saw them, after their unconventional automotive feat, "running away." Speculative, I'd say. But what I can confirm is that the car, once it had come, stuck around.

Then in broad sunlight one day, some unknown person or persons torched it. The broken hawthorn was singed. The shed fragments blackened. The ground scorched. Yet still the now-kippered carapace remained.

"You'll miss it when it goes," I suggested to Bob, now resignedly turning over the earth to get his earlies in, late.

Well, the story was this: The traffic police had been called. They said: "Nothing to do with us. To us it is just a parked car. Try the local police."

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The local police were called. They said: "Nothing to do with us. Try the traffic police." Pause. "Oh, all right. Then contact the owner."

Asked for the name of the owner, the local police said: "That is not information we are at liberty to divulge."

The Allotment Committee was called. They scratched their heads, looked baffled, and did not do anything of a noticeably active kind.

The Parks Department was called. They said: "Not our affair. It's on allotment ground, not park ground."

So nothing continued to be done ...

... Until Carlo, a new plot-holder and a garage-owner, offered to assist. This Italian-Glaswegian has "friends in the Force." From them he understood that if the vehicle were to find its way onto the park road, it would be towed in no time. And now it was rumored that its owner was unlikely to be coming for it, as he was about to start a prison term.

So Carlo jacked it up and replaced its long-gone tires with some just adequate worn-out ones. A local tractor was engaged. And on my next visit to do further combat with my sweet-pea trench, the car was sitting beside the road. Two visits later, it was gone.

Bob is now accumulating lengths of wood, old doors, etc., ready for rebuilding. New hawthorn whips have been planted. New netting stretched. His plot is a haven again.

And by the road lie four smooth tires and a piece of exhaust pipe. Lest we forget.

* A biweekly series on a municipal garden in Glasgow.

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