‘The Bit in the Middle: the Curiously Comic Tale of a Gardener in the Scottish Highlands’ is an autobiographical book about the life and times of Patrick Vickery, the author, gardener and newspaper columnist. Essentially this is a book about people, as well as a powerful testimony to the fact that life is extraordinary no matter who you are, where you live or what you do. The “bit in the middle” refers to the time span between birth and death, the only two indisputable certainties in life that we all share.
Autobiography, Social History, Genealogy, Humour, Comic Observation, the Meaning of Life – all this and more can be found within this free-flowing account of a full-time Gardener in the Scottish Highlands. Laugh and enjoy.
Why an Ebook, not print? Well, it’s cheaper to produce (so cheaper to buy) and easy to download via Amazon, iBook and similar ebook retailers for tablet, kindle, iphone, laptop or any other device you may care to use.
What the newspapers say:
Ross-shire Journal: '...wry observations on life and the people he encounters...'(23/9/16)
Northern Times: '...charting the chaotic, absurd and often extraordinary aspects of everyday life in the 21st Century...'(14/10/16)
All life is suspended by a thread. If by chance a gale blows, you are simply blown away.
It’s 6.30 in the morning, a ‘woolly hat’ sort of day - brittle ice, crispy coldness. I put the cackling ducks outside (they spent the night in the security of the kitchen on account of the sly fox that killed the unsuspecting hens and would almost certainly kill the cackling ducks given half a chance), fed the bleating goats, discussed the weather with the bristling cat as I guided her into the garden with a broom (useful for ‘cat-guiding’ situations), checked the fat goldfish was still alive (old fish, still alive), then tied my boot laces at the exact moment the big-eared dog vigorously shook his head resulting in a sequence of rapid slaps across my face with his ears. Very painful.
I de-iced the car and set off for work accompanied by a flask of coffee, smarting cheeks from oscillating dog ears and a mobile phone in case someone should call requiring urgent assistance with an unforeseen shrubbery incident. I had not gone far when I stopped to allow three stern geese to cross the road, at which point they answered my consideration by attacking the car, vicious blighters, in stark contrast to the escaped cow further down the road who gave me nothing more than a cursory glance as I overtook her at a snail’s pace.
Geese often guarded whisky distilleries in the past, you know, and provided an effective alarm system with integral deterrent (pecking) should anyone attempt to make off with a barrel or two, although in more recent times they have fallen out of favour due to their complete disregard for the notion of intent. Intent to steal whisky - deserving of a good peck. Non intent to steal whisky – still deserving of a good peck. Not pleasant. On a par with oscillating dog ears across the face. Give me a casual cow any day.
The day had started badly. It could only get better. It did. A pleasant pruning, chopping and blethering sort of day ensued. I was half way up an apple tree when I took an urgent phone call requesting Jaffa cakes and ‘something tasty for supper’. A request for ‘something tasty for supper’ is not unusual and often results in whatever I can lay my hands on in a hurry. A cheese and onion quiche perhaps? Though Jaffa cakes are easier, more specific and to the point. Jaffa cakes, incidentally, have replaced traditional half-time oranges at football matches. Disappointing.
Shopping complete, I returned home as dusk was falling. The bristling cat sat on the doorstep with the cackling ducks waiting to be let in.
So there you are, a day in the life of a gardener in the Scottish Highlands. It is late evening as I sit at the kitchen table writing this, the house is relaxed and peaceful, the only sounds to be heard are the cackle of contented ducks, the snore of a satisfied and big eared dog and the light tapping of a grammatically challenged rural rambling man on the laptop computer.