This is for Titus in Camden

Hildegard, full of concern for Colonel Crackpot’s wellbeing, had taken his overcoat (shaken several herrings and a mackerel out of the sleeves – more about that later) and encouraged him to sit down on a most inviting seat in the middle of the rose garden.

Colonel Crackpot was looking deeply offended about this. Hildegard drifted off to make tea. The Colonel sat surrounded by a dreamlike cloud of colour and scent and tried desperately to remember what on earth it was that he had meant to do that morning when he set out.


He was quite sure that sitting in a rose garden drinking tea with a lovely lady wasn’t it. He struggled to grasp the thought, but it was just out of reach. Finally he gave up. It was all Hildegard’s fault. He’d have that tea and then he’d jolly well get back out there and everything would go back to normal.

As he sat and listened to the wind rustling the trees, and to the blackbird singing in the branches overhead, a sense of great peacefulness settled over him. He took a deep breath. The scent of the roses was soothing. Something in the back of his mind said, ‘No, no, no!! This isn’t right! Stop this at once! Get out of that garden – it’s not good for you!

But by and by, ‘Yes it is,’ thought Colonel Crackpot. ‘I like it here. For a start, it doesn’t smell of fish.’ Fish, what was it about fish? But before he could continue with that thought, Hildegard returned with a tea tray.


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