Of all the things I imagined I would find myself enthused by on coming to work for a West End theatre PR agency, gardening wasn’t one of them.
Certainly, the roof terrace outside our office was enticing.
The office-warming party I’d attended before working here made clear its benefits as a summer evening entertaining area par excellence.
But when one of the company directors brought in two bags of compost, a couple of grow-bags and some seedlings, a funny thing began to happen to me.
It started as an excuse to leave my desk and have a think, without looking unproductive.
Watering plants in the sunshine, though frowned upon by Gardener’s Question Time, turns out to be inestimably good for the soul, and much less likely to result in a frosty annual appraisal than putting your forehead down on your desk and closing your eyes for a few minutes.
It took me by surprise when I began to feel concern for the plants if I remembered on the bus home that I hadn’t watered them that day.
I began to relish the sight of the sun beating down on the leaves.
The thought of the chloroplasts pounding away, pushing sugars through the stems and up the phloems, was enlivening in the extreme.
After a couple of months, small strawberries appeared at the top of the plants, and baby tomatoes started to swell on the vines.
I could hardly contain myself.
Now, it’s all I can do at dinner parties not to test the water with my unfortunate next-door neighbour as to whether they’ve ever felt similarly.
Like a secret Red at a 1950s Hollywood scriptwriters’ reception, I’ll drop hints about my leanings, angling for an acknowledgement of like-mindedness, so we can maybe go somewhere quieter to discuss the less sexy kinds of bedding ideas and fertilising fluids.
But that was last summer.
Winter was cruel to the plants, and I was neglectful – the tomato plant died and I felt suitably reproached.
Now, the clocks have gone forward and the rain is less frequent, and I’ve taken to watering the plants again.
The olive tree has sprouted two small, impertinent olives. They are my redemption.
To be honest, I haven’t liked tomatoes since I was a child, so I feel guilt only that I wasn’t too upset when that one died.
If the strawberries go, I don’t know what I’ll do.
Stephen Pidcock, Publicist, The Corner Shop PR