Derek Nimmo and House & Garden

The radio programme set us off. It was one of the compilation ones where they play old comedy shows for three hours. This one was involving 70s ones and they aired a Gas and Gaiters (I think it was called that, now I’m not so sure) about a group of clergy, with the curate being Derek Nimmo. I believe his character was called Moon. I never heard it as a child but I’ve heard it since. It is light, easy to listen too, full of nonsense and a little ponderous but sweet all the same. It got us talking about Nimmo. He was ubiquitous in the 70s, synonymous with slightly shy, bumbling characters often with a some kind of a speech impediment. I think he died young, he said. And began to sit on the stairs below, as I worked on the quilt upstairs reading from his wikipedia biography. Apparently he fell down some stone stairs after a night out at some award ceremony and cracked his head. He was in a coma for months before eventually dying. He had an illegitimate son, he called out from below, whom he recognised and included in his will. But his other, legitimate son was cut out. It can’t be easy to have your private concerns become public property. Our inner and other, less public lives, may surprise and I’m glad of it. But let them remain private, eh?

I thought about what it must be like to have a house and garden. Had I always assumed they would be mine? I have not eclipsed my parents in wealth and possessions by any stretch of the imagination. Some of my siblings, have, at least one, perhaps. I have not. We get by, we have enough but a garden. What would that have been like? We had one in Cambridge. But that was his house, not mine. And one in Truro but I rented that. And I couldn’t give time to either. Would I do so now? Perhaps not as much as I felt I ought to. But to sit in it, that would be nice. And to grow sweet peas, some vegetables, maybe and some fruit. Will it come one day? Please?

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.