It’s almost my birthday so we are taking Alan up to live with our daughter at university. Alan has recently separated from his family. They suffered considerable neglect over lockdown, becoming dehydrated, limp and a bit dusty.

Alan is an aloe plant.

The neglect came as a consequence of being Phil’s office plant and there being few opportunites for her to visit the office earlier in the year. The aloe family were eventually brought home and after a stay in the pot plant ICU (the end of the worktop nearest the window in the kitchen) they made a full recovery and thrived to such an extent that Alan could leave home and start a new life in a pot of his own.

Following meticulous preparation I load up the car for Alan’s journey to university. Phil asks me at least twice if I have everything we need.

“Yes,” I reply testily, “I have everything.”

We go via the motorway and Alan sits in the cup holder in the car and doesn’t make a peep all the way. I assume he’s nervous.

We arrive at a pub and following the current rules sit down to eat outside with our daughter. This was the reason for all the preparation. Blankets, waterproofs and various other precationary measures had been made for a Sunday afternoon out of doors at the end of October in England.

They would have been very useful if only I hadn’t left them in my bag on the living room chair at home. Despite being asked twice if I had everything I still managed to forget. Except for Alan who stays in the car. He’s on a strict sunlight and water diet.

In my bag were my reading glasses so I think I will have to order by a combination of squinting and guesswork and if it arrives slathered in bacon I will just have to eat what isn’t meat. It doesn’t bode well for an almost-my-birthday family meal.

Fortunately the menu is in bold twelve point type, the weather is kind to us and the newly installed patio heaters blast enough warmth to melt one side of our faces. We could probably toast our own bread on it if need be.

Following our meal we peek at the autumnal leaves at a local beauty spot followed by the obligatory trip to the supermarket. We are permitted to carry the baskets, our daughter fills them with mostly healthy items (but no lentils) and two bottles of booze. We have the obligatory argument over who is going to pay, our daughter insisting she does. I offer the compromise that we buy the alcohol and she buy the food. Agreed.

I am handed two green bottles of booze to pay for separately. They are my only purchases. I look like an alcoholic. To offset the appearance of dissipation Phil hands me the deodorant she bought for herself. Now I look like a smelly alcoholic.

Later, we exchange gifts. I am given a beautiful hardback book and we hand over Alan to our daughter’s care. We wish him well in his new life. He is the first of his family to go to uni and we are very proud of him. Fingers-crossed he will return home in the summer fully hydrated, healthy and dust free.

Join me in the G.B.B.B. in this week’s patreon story. Competition, incompetence and fire!

Signed and sketched books, original art, posters and comics are all available from my store.

Take care,


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