Quite frankly, I find the sight of pensioners intimately massaging each other quite off-putting.
I don’t expect to have to avert my eyes in the local garden centre but there they were blatantly stimulating one another right between the dahlias and the dieffenbachias.
They had their clothes on, granted, but then I’m told some people prefer the extra cachet of being togged up. I haven’t looked but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if there was a duffle coat fetish site out there on the internet.
They just couldn’t resist the hand-held knobbly massagers.
“Oooh. A bit lower Bert. Ahh. That’s it..aaaaahhhh. Tell you what. This might be good for your lumbago..”
When the Mrs managed to lower herself into the black leather massage chair, which was already switched on and humming welcomingly, I thought it was time to make my excuses and leave.
Garden Centres sure have changed. They have turned into one-stop shopping malls with restaurants and play areas where plants, seed and compost are purely incidental.
I’ve been to a few lately – not of my choosing – but I find it astonishing that you can now buy glassware, greetings cards, gifts, clothing, handbags, toys, confectionery, massage chairs, home furnishings, furniture at what they still laughingly call “garden centres.” Gift Centre, surely, with a few plants lobbed into the mix.
I suppose the attraction for the less mobile is that they can get all their stuff under one convenient roof. Give me 20 years and I’ll be extolling their virtues, no doubt.
But personally, I still have fond memories of the old seed-merchants. There was one in Gloucester where you could pick up your seed potatoes and choose from a world-beating variety of vegetable seeds. They had so many different varieties of broad beens they used to display them in the corridor adjacent to the shop.
“Young Mr George” a silver-haired gentleman with impeccable manners, was in charge and the rest of the staff seemed to be have been employed direct from the womb. They knew their onions (sorry) and could tell you almost to the day when you’d be needing to earth up those Maris Pipers after planting. They particularly liked people like me who were totally mystified as to why they’d managed to grow carrots with legs and genitals. They felt they could teach us a thing or two – and of course they did. It was all most welcome and quite nice that someone was taking genuine interest in my brassicas.
They were definitely jobs for life – until the place closed down 30 years ago because they couldn’t compete with the first out-of-town garden centres with convenient parking.
But now garden centres are diversifying so much, I wonder if they have the horticultural equivalent of young Mr George and his staff?
My favourite “garden centre” – and it’s very local – is a little place that is invariably deserted. And I mean Marie Celeste-style deserted. If you make the long walk through the first building, with the hessian liners, the wellington boots, cyclamen (they always look so much better in dozens)and the till, then out past herbaceous and roses, through the first greenhouse – empty – to the second big greenhouse to the south, you might just might find a figure potting something in the far corner.
It’s either that or ring the bell on the counter by the till and wait. Honestly, anyone with a van could clear the whole place in five minutes and no-one would even know. But thankfully they never have.
And in a very few minutes, someone will appear. It’s usually a silver-haired lady, 80 if she’s a day, who is very pleasant and knowledgeable and will look at your stuff and make random reductions.
I was expecting my bag of daffodil bulbs to be about a fiver (very late season) but she took a peek and said “Some of those look a bit ropey my love but they’ll probably come up. Shall we say £1 for the lot?”
She might own the place. I’m not sure. But it’s good to be served by someone who obviously knows and enjoys their job so much that they have eschewed the chance to retire. Plus, she offered to carry the Christmas tree out to the car for me. What a woman!
I have mixed feelings about the change in garden centres. as for intimate massaging in public, it makes me queasy, whatever the age of the participants.
When Mother was more mobile, one of our favourite runs used to be to Long Melford where they have a gorgeous church, a great pub, lots and lots of antique shops and a garden centre that sells books, mugs and all sorts of wonderful things. I don’t think we ever left empty handed, even if we only bought a bag of aniseed twist.
Well, it wasn’t that bad, Isobel. Poetic licence and all that… but they were definitely experimenting with what would work on the lumbago!
Sounds as though Long Melford had it all for you! 🙂
I have a confession. I have sat, in bliss, on the Homedics massage chair thingy. In the middle of House of Fraser in the MetroCentre. Just beside the escalator. On numerous occasions.
In my defence, it is remarkably soothing and I’m road testing before buying. Once I went with one of my friends and writhed in ecstacy (well, said ahhh a few times and sat staring into the middle distance) for a few minutes. She pooh poohed my behaviour. I said ‘try it’. She did. She was there longer than me!!!!
On the debate of garden centres vs nurseries: for proper plant buying, I like nurseries but there are a couple of garden centres I’ve come across which appear to have taken the mass market appeal of pile it high/sell it cheap to a different level with choice plants, very attractive gifts and lovely cafes. New Hopetoun Gardens in West Lothian and Larch Cottage Nurseries near Penrith (well maybe that’s really a big nursery).
Laughing here, Sophie you wanton woman! I mean, just beside the escalator. That is soooo attention-seeking. 🙂 I mean, how many “road-tests” do you need?
They have “massage” chairs at the backwash at my hairdresser’s but they are a kind of generalised vibration and made me feel a bit queasy rather than ecstatic.
I will take a look at Larch Cottage Nurseries at Penrith next time we head up to the Lakes. That’s usually the point at which we get off the M6 and head for Keswick area.