My Undergrowth is Out of Control...

Mrs Doris Groom

5, Agincourt Street

Little Hope

4th July 1940

Dear Mrs Ffinch,

My husband Harold, a keen gardener in peacetime, recently returned from active service for a week’s leave and I could tell from the outset that something was bothering him. At first, he kept denying that anything was wrong, but on the morning after his arrival when we were still abed he came clean and said to me “Doris, your undergrowth is out of control, just because I’m not here to give it a seeing to myself, doesn’t mean that you should let yourself go.”

I do feel rather hurt, as I do my best to keep my garden tidy, but with the war on there’s always something else to do!

Please advise, I should hate for Harold to go back to the front with a strop on.


Doris Groom, Mrs.

The Little Hope Herald

Saturday, 6th July 1940

Dear Mrs Groom,

You are not alone, my dear, many a man has come back from the front, as it were, to find that all is not rosy in his lady’s garden. I am inundated with tales of conquering heroes returning to their familiar patches to find them either overgrown or entirely devoid of nature’s natural covering or indeed – worst of all – being tended by someone else.

It is difficult for a fellow who is away endeavouring to give Jerry one, to understand that life back at home can also be jolly hard at times, and so I do urge caution in your response to your husband’s complaints. Fighting the urge to go at him with your handbag will go some way towards winning the war as, should he lose an eye for example, that would be one less man at the front and a definite point in Jerry’s favour.

When Colonel Ffinch leaves the marital home to return to the front from leave, having exhorted one to keep one’s garden tidy in his absence, I always endeavour to ensure that he departs secure in the knowledge that upon his return everything will be as ship shape and Bristol fashion as it was when he departed. Now, as I am sure you will be aware from village gossip, I am not one to exert myself needlessly and, if I might be honest with you, although I have reared an impressive number of cucumbers in my time I have never ever trimmed back my own undergrowth. It is to this end that I employ the services of Mr Dick Scratcher, Gamekeeper of this parish, to surreptitiously keep an eye on things in Colonel Ffinch’s absence and – should things become a little unkempt down there – to get stuck in as necessary.

I am assuming, without prejudice Mrs Groom, that you do not have a Gamekeeper of your own to hand and to be honest I’m a little sensitive when it comes to my Dick being coveted by others, but I have it on good authority that the services of Mr Archibald Cummings of Kitchener Terrace might be had quite cheaply. One hears that the man is a dab hand with a dibber and the shrieks of delight from his lady customers when their plots are undergoing ‘a good seeing-to’ are to be heard as far afield as Harrogate. Verily I say unto you that even Mrs Ricketts, the Vicar’s housekeeper, has had him in when the Reverend Fishwick has been called away to help the Bishop of Rotherham sort his canonicals out.

I do hope this helps, Mrs Groom, and I exhort you to employ the services of Mr Cummings before your brave spouse returns on leave next. I’m sure that you will not regret doing so and your husband’s delight when he claps eyes on your manicured lawn will be evident for all to see.


Hilda Ffinch,

The Bird with All The Answers

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