Nancy is rather enjoying the unseasonable warmth we’ve been experiencing. It’s really only spring, after all. The warmer weather affords the team of young men who work in our garden each week an opportunity to remove their shirts and cool themselves under the shade of the Bangalow Palm, which was planted by a Victoria Cross winner in 1923, and to be served cool refreshing drinks by a statuesquely feline creature, with Oroton sunglasses on her head and Harrod’s gardening gloves on her hands, who really ought to know better. The younger ones could be her grandsons, I tell her, and she answers that she’s never known a Maori man well enough for that too be true. Then I tell her to stop it and she winks at me and we both laugh.

But seriously, Nancy looks after Bill and his young men. She gets out with them, sometimes when it’s raining – she has a selection of very nice wellies – and even when it’s the middle of summer she’ll go out and direct traffic for a little while, like a tank commander from the North African campaign, doing a lot of pointing with her Cambodian fly swat. The garden is her vision, with the help of her designers and landscapers, and Bill’s boys make it happen.

This is a source of creative expression for Nancy, a personal thing, but she accepts input from me – indeed she demands it sometimes – and it is at these times that I have to recall some very good advice I was given once by a friend who went on to become a very prominent figure in the cement industry. He painted a picture for me. He said sometimes when a woman asks for an opinion all they want is an opinion. They don’t really care what the opinion is. He said often there are two options and there is no real reason to go for one over the other. You won’t lose anything by going either way as well. What’s more you don’t even really care. He said just chose one, make a decision, and chose confidently, because that’s what a woman wants sometimes. A decision. Any decision. This is the reason we have Italian pavers on the upper patio – there wasn’t actually anything wrong with the reclaimed railway sleepers for decking idea, but we just decided not to go that way[1].

Colleagues have confided in me over the years that they find it difficult to make decisions, and especially to make big decisions. This sickness has never afflicted me. Nancy was the one for me, I knew that, and law was the life for me, so I pursued that, and there are no regrets. The door to our dining room used to be part of a medieval chapel outside Ghent, which was falling down, and concerned people all over the world rescued parts of the beautiful old building. You don’t get features in your home like that if you aren’t willing to be bold and just make the decision, whatever it is. As it happened the decision to import the door meant trusting a friendly sounding Belgian man named Hank, who said he was an antiques dealer and scholar of the middle ages but who was in fact a recently paroled fraudster. We got our chapel door, undamaged, and it is authentic, but for the amount of money it cost there could have been another BMW four wheel-drive in the garage rather than the empty space we currently have.

These things happen sometimes.

[1] And by we, I mean I.

Published in: on October 15, 2012 at 7:42 pm  Leave a Comment  

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