RIP – Barry the Cactus. He was a present (sorry Andy, sorry Charley) and now I have to confess to killing him. In the photo he looks well enough. There even appears to be a new green shoot, but he’s dead alright. He has withered and turned grey.
It was all going so well. The green growth, now deflated and wrinkled, was an exciting product of warm dry cactus-health during the summer, which I then completely undermined with my ineptitude. I’m a plant killer.
I’ve just ordered a book called ‘How not to kill your houseplants – survival tips for the horticulturally challenged.’ That’s me. In as many months I’ve killed two houseplants. Spinelli the Spider Plant shrivelled up through lack of water and I fear that Barry the Cactus was killed for the opposite reason. Please don’t tell my friend Elaine. She gave me Spinelli in good faith. She named him, for goodness sake, and in return I promised to nurture him and give him a good home in the kitchen. I couldn’t even do that.
Weirdly, the ‘Mother-in’law’s tongue’ plants that I re-potted are doing astoundingly well – just like the real thing. Indestructible.
‘Killed anyone recently?’ I’m often asked with a wry smile. Writing crime thrillers isn’t easy, you know, but killing off characters is part of the job. I derive great pleasure from dispatching a nasty human individual. Very therapeutic. However, woe betide the crime writer who involves animals in any form of danger, torture or worse. This is an absolute ‘no-no’.
So, where do I stand with killing plants? I need to know because I think it’s only fitting that I remember the lives of Spinelli and Barry by immortalising them within the plot of my current work in progress. Not in the form of a plant torturing scene, you understand, but as a feature, a bit part.
Maybe I could inflict damage on someone who deserves it via assault with a cactus. Make Barry a hero. Strangle someone with a spider plant … Maybe not. I’ll give it some thought.
In the meantime, I’ll make sure I read that book when it arrives and try not to do any more damage to innocent house plants and you can shake your head at the peculiar workings of my mind, realising that this is how writers come up with original plot lines. Sad really.
Barry the Cactus is dead. Long live Barry the Cactus.