I couldn’t think what to do with Uncle Adultery when he paid us an unscheduled visit on Saturday. In desperation I suggested the Seedy thing at the Grange Gardens and to my surprise he jumped at it.
‘Why do you call him that?’, whispered Grange Girl, gazing at him in shock and awe. Uncle Adultery always cuts a bit of a dash; doubly so in this straw-strewn tent scattered with Lewes worthies in woolly hats.
His unusual moniker is not a slur on his private life but rather his professional one: he runs a dating agency for married people who want to have affairs. I know! Whatever happened to initiative?
His slogan is ‘Attached? Yet Need a Loving Friend?’ and he has made a packet from it, for those of you recession bunnies considering a change of portfolio. His pale gold Prada suit, accessorised with purple shirt, white Italian moccasins and loud Received Pronunciation caused all heads to turn as he sauntered round the stalls, looking puzzled.
‘Dearest niece’, he boomed finally, ‘I can’t see a single thing that could be granted the nomenclature ‘seedy’. Where are the burlesque ladies? Where are the gentlemen’s etchings? Where, in short, is the va-va-voom?’
Honestly, if he didn’t exist, I’d have invented him. Grange Girl pretended she wasn’t with us, and hid under a bookstall selling tomes such as ‘Apocalypse Now: Use String to Protect Your Family’ and ‘Yum! Mung Beans!’ I’d been interested to see Grangey and Uncle A together as I couldn’t imagine two more different universes, but she gestured at me to make him go away.
My Uncle gave one last hopeless sweep of the room to ensure he wasn’t missing a pole-dancing display somewhere, then allowed me to show him round.
At first he was impressed: ‘They do your garden for free here, Niecey! They charge £25 an hour in Kensington!’
I gently explained the principle behind land-share, whereby people with gardens share them with people without for mutual gain and fresh veggies, but he just nodded as though I were simple and said, ‘Yes! Free gardening!’
However, he was confused by the man giving away small packets of compost (‘Yes, dear fellow, but why would I want it if you value it so little?’) and completely mystified by the seed swapping element of the day.
‘Now let me just see if I’ve got this straight’, he harangued them. ‘I give you some SEEDS’ - pronounced as though it were a foreign word - ‘and you give me some different SEEDS?’ They nodded, uncertainly. ‘And then what?’ he cried, ‘Where will it all end?’
At this point I sidled off to spend a futile yet pleasant hour milling flour. I was rather astonished, on my return, to see Uncle and Grange Girl sitting on the window ledge in the foyer, talking intently. As I approached, I heard her say, ‘Really? That’s extremely interesting’, and she twisted her wedding ring round and round.
Beth Miller, 2nd February 2009. Published in Vivalewes.com, and in Viva Lewes magazine, February 2010. Photo taken by Alex Leith