Today was back to work day, my first at the plant centre for three weeks. I would not say that I felt unalloyed joy at six-fifteen this morning when the alarm clock went off. I was slightly early to work, but the manager was earlier, already checking the e-mails on the computer in the office when I arrived. My young colleague was slightly late, and had a disastrous cold. The dog seemed quite pleased to see me.
My colleagues had been busy in my absence creosoting the display benches, or rather creosote-substituting them. A pungent smell of creosote substitute hung over the plant centre. I have never yet been asked to take part in the annual creosote-fest, and knew I wasn't going to break my duck today, because it was drizzling. If you apply creosote substitute to wet wood it doesn't seem to soak in properly, but stays on the surface for days in an oily slick of droplets, waiting to coat the clothes and skin of anybody unwise enough to touch it.
The manager stayed so long at the computer that I thought I'd better find myself something useful to do, and started picking dead leaves off the remaining stock of primula in the plant centre. In a couple of cases the entire plant came as well. Primula don't survive especially well in pots, because they are particularly suscept to vine weevil, and I put the two pots to one side for the manager to investigate later. They might have just got too wet, and rotted. The manager found me standing cleaning pots in the drizzle, and suggested I might like to go and clean up herbaceous plants under cover in the polytunnel on the Other Side. He brought in trolley load after trolley load of pots, mostly iris, and I spent the rest of the day trimming off their dead leaves, pulling out weeds, and making them presentable. If I'd known I was going to be doing that I'd have put my radio in the car. Probably I should anyway as a precaution at this time of year.
Technically I think that if I listen to music on my radio or any other device with a loudspeaker while at work my employers are supposed to have a music licence. If, on the other hand, I were to listen to a radio or i-Pod through headphones for my own exclusive personal use, I don't think they would be required to get one. The manager told me recently about one of our suppliers, a larger horticultural firm than ours, which in order to comply with the music licence rules restricted music at work to personal devices. They changed their minds after a girl who was listening on headphones didn't hear an approaching tractor and was quite badly hurt when she stepped into its path. I'm all for musicians being paid for their efforts, but it seems mad that I can legally listen alone to Radio 3 on Tuesdays in my own greenhouse, but not on Mondays in my employer's polytunnel.
The poster for the snowdrop walk never made it to the woman who works in the office, so far as I could discover. I presume it is sitting in the boss's inbox, maybe waiting for the owner to approve it, but it has not been printed, or laminated, or put up in the shop. I asked the manager if he could chase it up, and remind the owner that the website needed updating. Apparently the answerphone message still gives our Christmas opening hours as well.