10 Forsythia Grove
CORSETTSHIRE ZY6 4GT
My Dear Ralph
I'm sorry to hear pet, that you are about to be imprisoned for fomenting civil discord on the streets of Bright Litton. Is that really illegal? It is not as if you were committing treason! It may also be rather annoying should the content of our epistles come to the attention of the Small Cell prison guards! I will be sure to secrete some extra package or other into your large box of birthday chocolates next month - after you have settled in.
As for myself, I have been engaged in one or two activities over at Colonel Mustang's. Yesterday, armed with a stout pair of loppers and red leather gauntlets, I decided to 'thin' one or two very tall roses. These plants were resplendently 'blooming' with scarlet rose hips and a most beautiful sight indeed - especially when pruned to a more architectural shape. Pet, they towered over the surrounds of wet leaves and long grasses and quite astounded the eye.
However, during the course of manipulating the ladder, I detected an ample form, clad in a green camouflage outfit, melting towards me through the trees. I stared, suspiciously, for my training as an operative has not quite abandoned me. This Percival person, from the farm down the road, announced that he, and a bunch of comrades, were about to descend upon the premises in order to do some pheasant shooting. So I thanked him for the information and declared that I would retreat to a more visible location - not wanting to end the day full of lead shot and departing, myself, for No Return District General Hospital. And shortly after this a whole cohort of Percivals arrived on the scene in their 4x4's and landrovers. By this time dear, I had had second thoughts about the need to remain inconspicuous. Why not, after all, use this opportunity to practise my native Indian tracker skills? I could definitely espy an individual bringing up the rear, periodically brandishing a yellow flag. He seemed the
perfect target for my attentions. So, gathering up an armful of snipped boughs, I crept off after him (upwind of the dogs, not being the complete nitwit at large!) and made quite some ground. And eventually, at a location proximate to the bonfire, I chirruped in his ear, 'Now dear, I am not a bird you know.' It would have been funny, and I was all set for a burst of mirth, had not - at that very moment - a pheasant broken from cover, emitting the 'kok kok kok' sound for which they are renowned, together with that 'explosive wing clapping' you read about in books! (I do hope you didn't mistake the title of my missive for anything else did you pet?? And that it didn't lead you to read thus far, with a more than usual degree of enthusiasm?) Anyway, the pheasant was winging it directly towards me and I was impelled to throw self plus rose branches into the bonfire. What I looked like given the fact that said branches were adorned in thousands of what looked like drops of blood, I will leave to imagine!
I decided that my most sensible course of action, at this point, was to retire from the fray and head for my desk in the chipmunk hut. Colonel Mustang had, after all, asked me to consider the subject of discounts when the gardens open, for the first time, to the public next year. I have had a few ideas now and I would like you to consider them. My first innovation is going to be the introduction of a 'green' concessionary rate. This will be given to anyone who possesses the initiative to either cycle, or walk, up the drive - leaving any motor vehicle on the road. Secondly, I think we will offer a concession to ex-offenders/sufferers from severe mental health conditions - with a preference for anyone recently released from Broadmoor or Rampton. And, finally, we could offer a discount to anyone able to identify the (obscure) horticultural specimen I present, in a jam jar, on the cash desk! For who, I wonder, will be able to identify a shoot from the Katsura tree (otherwise well known to us all by the name of Cercidyphyllum japonicum)! I don't know what we are going to do about access to toilet facilities. Perhaps the ladies can be shown to the shrubby laurel to the left of the gate and the gentlemen will be able to use the facilities up against the Bird Cherry tree. I must say dear that, by these methods, I might quite enjoy my sojourn down at the pay desk!