‘I bought 20 Venus flytraps at one point. But they need prey and I forgot to water the flies’

 

Share

This week my cactus died because I didn’t look after it well enough. I’d had it for four, maybe five weeks, but couldn’t find a pulse on it on Tuesday morning at 08:30 hours and after pressing it and kissing it tons, said a prayer and wanged it in a bin bag and got rid.

I’ve got a depressing track record with keeping flora alive. I always go into it with such optimism. I waltz round Homebase like a champion, stroking their verdant offerings, tickling stems and weeping at their beauty.

Then I shovel them on to my trolley and trundle to the till, talking to them with great positivity. “I know where I’m putting you, you green bastard” and “You’ll look pretty fit by my telly, son” and “I’m going to water the shit out of you, mate, don’t you worry”. But even as my Barclays debit card is settling up, I feel a certain anemia wafting from the pots.

My parents are keen gardeners, of course. Bill will think nothing of slipping into his brown shorts and spending 10 straight hours out back on a Sunday.

He’ll waddle round, bare-chested, lavishly swinging his scythe or pumping life-giving fluids at the apple tree. He’ll talk to the plants, lick their petals, cut them at their base and walk them around the village, anything to make them feel special, to let them thrive. Mum will make up jugs of homemade lemonade or weedkiller, and he’ll knock the one back and sprinkle the other, before ransacking the shed and mowing the roses.

But I’m cut from a more forgetful cloth. I’ll buy shitloads of plants and bed them into my flat in pots. I’ll then water them, stand back from them and rub my hands together. Then I’ll maybe photograph them or try to climb them or bury my face in them. Then I’ll leave them for three to four weeks and then bin them. Even reading that back I know it sounds wrong. I know I need to spray more water on them. “Keep them wet, son!” That’s what my dad keeps texting, but I have my life, too. I can’t spend all my time hovering over these arseholes with my jug. And so they die. And then I grieve. And then I go back to Homebase.

Recently I’ve thought about buying a cat, or whatever the little one is that turns into a cat. I’ve been on websites and sourced pictures of the kind of thing I want. Small, grey, guileless. And I’ve seen a beautiful cat flap online. Expensive, but so, so sweet. But then I look at my record with the plants and I wonder whether I have it in me to keep her alive. If I can’t remember to pour water down a plant’s leg, what hope do I have of feeding chunks of beef into a cat’s mouth? And the social stigma of overseeing a succession of cat starvations feels like it’s going to lose me more phone contacts than my current plant-whacking. My brow is knitted; it’s hard.

The cactus was a low-point. Shaken by the shear quantities of green blood on my hands I had tried other things. I thought planting stuff outside might be the answer. You hear so much about rain these days. I got a bunch of elm bulbs and plunged them into pots full of mud on my outside bit, but no elms were forthcoming and I’ve stopped even checking their progress.

I bought 20 Venus flytraps at one point. At least they meet you halfway and hunt down their own stuff, I thought. But they still need prey, I forgot to water the flies, and the Veni perished. And so I bought the cactus. And I slung Highland Spring down her gullet. And I willed her to flourish. I was tender with her, warm. I cuddled her and kissed her. I tore my lips apart so that she could prosper. And still she fell.

And as she died, so did my dreams of getting a young cat. I have no hope of meeting her needs. It would be selfish. I have decided, instead, to pour all of my money into the cat flap. And then see if I can maintain that. And if I can, then I will start to look at low-maintenance plants once more.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Project Coordinator

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: The Organisation: The Green Recrui...

Project Manager (HR)- Bristol - Upto £400 p/day

£350 - £400 per annum + competitive: Orgtel: Project Manager (specializing in ...

Embedded Linux Engineer

£40000 - £50000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Embedded Sof...

Senior Hardware Design Engineer - Broadcast

£50000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Working for a m...

Day In a Page

Read Next
The Lada became a symbol of Russia’s failure to keep up with Western economies  

Our sanctions will not cripple Russia. It is doing a lot of the dirty work itself

Hamish McRae
The Israeli ambassador to the US, Ron Dermer, has been dubbed ‘Bibi’s brain’  

Israel's propaganda machine is finally starting to misfire

Patrick Cockburn
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

Will Gore: Outside Edge

The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz