Value Added.. ?

by Richard Small

It started with a seed, well, one of many actually, picked freely by dear Mrs Goodgrace, from a Hollyhock that overhung a public path. Lovingly collected and placed safely into a folded envelope the seeds were carried back home along with their new owner's benevolent dreams. . . then forgotten, misplaced in the shed for a year.

It was a pleasant surprise when the seeds turned up again, discovered by her helpful neighbour, Mr Kindly. "Oh you can have them," she said, "I meant to plant them then forgot, pity, they'd have been lovely."

They all germinated, part of God's nature, the way of the universe you know, there was no charge, the rain came and the seeds grew unhindered into fine plants nurtured by the Sun and a small pot of garden earth. "Lovely, dear, but you have too many," said his wife, Argusina Kindly, "and I think they're just a bit too tall for our little garden." "All right love," he replied, "I'll not waste them, I'll give them to Mr Grubitout at the nursery, I'm sure he'll find a good home for them."

**

Not so far away at the posh end of the village, Mr and Mrs Havalot were in the process of having their garden landscaped by Mr Trimmings and Sons and, never having lifted a finger in the garden themselves, were taking his advice. He should be good as they had seen his old pick-up outside the big house', owned by none other than the Lucre El Dorado, banking consultant.

He'd do a good job', Trimmings had said, and keep the price low for them as the Havalots were struggling to live on the rents from their Lucerne holiday flats, and what with the mooring costs at the yacht club too'.

**

"Just the very thing for you, Trimmings", said Grubitout, "some fine Hollyhocks, mixed colours and only 6 a plant, I tell you what, I'll discount them at 5.50 for you, can't say fairer than that, a real steal as they say."

"I'll take the lot, Grubitout", replied Trimmings, eyeing the strong dark green foliage and beginnings of good stems they'd flower this year with luck.

"Right, that's 20 plants at 5.50, er um, 110 plus VAT at 20%. . . dreadfully sorry about that, can't be escaped you know, we all have to pay . . . so that will be 132 if you please", said Grubitout not so much organically but more orgasmically as he rung the bell on the nursery till.

**

"All planted Mrs Havalot I got you some real beauties, nursery grown, quality plants from Mr Grubitout's Establishment. . . Let's see now. . . that's 150 for the plants, real beauties, mixed colours he said, you won't find better anywhere I dare say. . . then only 50 labour, tell you what, you're nice people, make that just 45, as I like you. . . 150 plus 45 is er 195, plus that damned VAT at 20%. . the scourge of the nation that, still, we all have to pay it, can't be escaped . . . so that comes to 233 then please. Thanks for your business, call me back anytime," smiled a very happy Mr Trimmings the landscaper.

Meanwhile out in the garden 20 free seedlings flourished in God's earth with free rain and free sunshine. Their added value would be the scented flowers that perfumed the garden, the drop-in pollen caf for the bees, no charge, no tax, and later the seed heads would feed winter hungry birds, free, no tax, their autumn leaves would fall and enrich the soil for free, no tax . . . such is the way of nature.

Some years later, as the Hollyhocks developed, they began to spread and overhang a garden wall, there to be spotted by that dear little old lady, Mrs Goodgrace while out walking with her granddaughter; She reached out and picked a few seeds. Carefully placing them in a folded envelope she said, "I'll jolly well make sure I plant them this time, I bet they'll look lovely, come on, let's go home for tea and find some plant pots, I have some really pretty green ones I saved free from the rubbish tip."

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