When I got in yesterday, Ming was sitting in the kitchen talking to a selection of Jerusalem artichoke tubers which he’d arranged neatly in rows of three on the table - like a little army.
They won’t speak,” he complained.
“Why would they?”
“Syllabubs on Mars are usually quite chatty. Nice little fellows.” He smiled wanly; reminiscingly.
“On earth,” I said, “syllabubs are a kind of pudding. These are artichokes. Not that puddings talk either,” I added (wondering whether this really was the kind of thing one needs to explain).
He stood up and went to the window.
“I suppose the good thing about these Syllabubs,” he said, “is that they won’t burrow under the fence and grow up on someone else’s allotment. It can work out expensive at times. That’s why you have to talk to them . . . make them want to stay.”
I went and took another look at his immigration papers. The lady in Manchester has given him a birthday; January. Ages yet.
I’ll tell him about the Geraniums tomorrow.