The Little Willowford Mission (6)

Report Six

My dearest Commander, I can barely contain my excitement. I have news that I am confident will transport you to heights of great happiness. But, before I begin, I must thank you for your reply to my last report and assure you that I will, in future, restrict any detailed medical observations to the new reporting system you have devised for that purpose. I was most forlorn to hear about your own bout of queasiness and I hope that this report finds you entirely recovered.

And so to my news. Commander, I have made a friend. Please do not be alarmed, I have not, like Doctor Frankenstein in the much-loved book from the required reading list, constructed a body from disparate parts and shocked it into life. I am fully aware that our own scientists discounted this option many hundreds of cycles ago and I have no evidence that it has ever been repeated successfully here. No, my friend is a perfectly normal human female of a similar age to my body. I believe she will be most useful to our mission.

The woman is known as Pam. It is likely that she has other names, but I have not yet been able to discover them. She lives in a dwelling very close to my own, in fact there is but one other dwelling between us. Commander, I must be entirely truthful. The interaction that led to the formation of this relationship was not at my instigation, neither was it planned. I would prefer that it were not so, that it was the successful culmination of a plan, but it seems I must be content with fortuitous events.

Just two days ago, I was inspecting the area of land at the rear of the dwelling. This is known as a garden and I will refer to it in that way throughout this report. I was cognisant of your direction to comply at all times with the written instructions in the document named Tenancy Agreement and you will remember that I am required ‘to keep the patio areas, paths, garden areas, lawns, flower beds, shrubs or bushes and borders as tidy, weed free and in seasonal order as at the start of the tenancy’. Despite several hours’ research, I was unable to identify many of those elements that require my attention. I recognised grass and a path constructed of squares of what I believe to be stone or concrete, but I could find no sign of plants, flower beds, shrubs or bushes.

I was in danger of falling into a state of depression when I heard a voice.

‘Lovely day!’

I looked in the direction from which the voice had originated and saw a woman standing in a similar position to myself, outside her own dwelling. There is little in the way of fencing between our respective gardens and I could see that hers was quite the opposite of mine, containing many different kinds of plants. I decided to respond. Surely, it would have been most ill-mannered to ignore her greeting.

‘Yes it is, indeed, a very pleasant day,’ said I.

I have discovered through many hours of observation, that human weather-related greetings do not require the recipient to offer an honest opinion concerning the meteorological conditions at that time. Indeed, I believe it would be considered inappropriate to challenge the instigator’s personal assessment. The following provides a supporting example: whilst waiting at the transport stop following my visit to the ASDA, I observed a young man wearing only a thin upper garment approach a much older man who was wearing both a hat and a coat. They clearly had an existing relationship as they greeted each other with smiles.

‘Hello, Callum, bit chilly today, ain’t it?’ said the older man.

‘Too right, Harry,’ was the reply, whereupon the younger man, who was clearly not at all chilly, patted his friend upon the shoulder and walked away at some speed.

Commander, I digress. Fascinating although these insights into human behaviour are, I must continue with my account of how I was successful in continuing an interaction which would normally have terminated at that point. I walked towards the fence and made exaggerated head movements to indicate that I was looking at her garden.

‘I am in great admiration of your garden,’ I called.

‘Oh, thanks,’ was her reply, ‘but it’s mostly the old man’s work. I just get to enjoy it.’

I did not know the identity of this old man and wondered if he could be persuaded to transform my own garden so that it resembled hers and thus met the conditions of the Tenancy Agreement. I was about to ask her how I might contact him, when she spoke again.

‘Come and have a look if you like.’

I replied in the affirmative and, Commander, there I was, sitting at a small table and drinking a nice cup of tea within minutes of our first interaction. I hope you will be impressed. After that, Pam showed me the garden and pointed out so many different plants and shrubs that I had no chance of remembering them all. She also showed me a water feature and many models of small animals, some manufactured from plastic and some from stone. Fortunately, these do not appear in the Tenancy Agreement so I do not feel obliged to acquire anything similar.

I was most content in Pam’s garden and was delighted to accept her offer of a second cup of tea. That was when the conversation turned away from the garden and I was shocked to find that Pam was happy to divulge many details of her life to me, despite having only known me for approximately one hour. She showed me a large number of pictures of children she referred to as ‘grandkids’ and provided me with information about their skills and talents which, I was glad to tell her, were so numerous that the said children must be considered veritable prodigies. I did not have the opportunity to question her about the old man, as her husband arrived home shortly after we had finished our cups of tea, and made enquiries about his forthcoming dinner.

Sadly, I have not yet been able to identify any information that may be useful to our mission, but I am confident that Pam will prove to be a most remarkable asset as our relationship develops. I hope, dear Commander, that you will agree this has been a most productive week.

Your most obedient servant,

Jane Brown (Mrs)


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