"I recently overheard an allotment holder I know tell another how next year's crop would hopefully be bigger and better. Then I saw this picture recently on Facebook and apart from it looking sweet, it reminded me of many gardeners I have known who prided themselves in growing prized overgrown specimens of one vegetable or another.
This thought took my mind back to a story that my mother told me as a child. It was about a cruel Head Master of her youth who delighted in beating his pupils with the swish of his cane at every opportunity during his forty-year career. He became so proud about the discipline of his class that he frequently boasted about it on a night time in the pub to many an adult whom he'd beaten as a child. In fact it was said that he was never seen inside or outside the school without his cane in one hand, which he carried like a walking stick. He carried it like a badge of pride in his school and community and even had it to hand in his home, should ever his wife step out of line and cross him.
When the cruel Head Master teacher eventually retired, he became interested in growing vegetables and each day he would attend his allotment. Greatly missing being 'number one' in his former school position where he would beat his pupils daily, he decided to start beating everyone in the Portlaw community who dared to try and win 'First in Show' in the annual 'Waterford Vegetable Cup.' For seven years he won the trophy for 'Best in the Show' and bragged constantly to all and sundry at every opportunity that he was the best man in Portlaw. Everyone detested his presence, yet feared him and his cane.
The day came when one of Portlaw's former residents returned from America, where he'd emigrated as a young boy. Following the ex Headmaster's boasting, he accepted the bully's challenge and hefty wager as to who would grow the largest vegetable and win next year's show. When this quiet man who'd returned to Portlaw from America had been a boy, he'd attended the school of the cruel headmaster and had often been beaten mercilessly by him with the swish of his cane.
Determined to get his revenge, he discovers the bully's secret to growing giant-sized vegetables and assisted by a secret ingredient of his own, wins the wager and carries off the cup for 'Best in Show.'
I won't reveal the secret here and spoil it for any future reader of the book. I elaborated the germ of my mother's tale, and with the use of poetic licence, I have written it up as one of my 'Tales from Portlaw' which can be freely read on my website or bought in book form. The story is entitled, 'Bigger and Better' and is freely accessed to be read in its entirety by following the link below. Anyone wishing to purchase the book in either e-book format or hard copy can do so from www.lulu.com or amazon.com All profits from book sales go to charity." William Forde: January 29th, 2015.