I'm not even sure that I like the monkey puzzle tree (Araucaria), although I do like the crossword setter of that name very much indeed, as do most cryptic crossword fans. But Bert's father Johnny Orr liked monkey puzzle trees and he planted one in the lawn at Springhill nearly thirty years ago. The dog pictured is Tweed, I never knew him, he was before my time. Tweed bit a small child on the face, a child who was a near neighbour of Bert's parents and the dog was put down for his sins that very same day. The bite was savage and the boy bears the scar to this day despite having received extensive reconstructive surgery. The first time Bert ever visited me in my home was the evening of the day that this terrible thing occurred. Bert was very sad and near to tears about the day's events. That was the evening that our relationship began.
We move on nearly three decades, Bert and I live at Springhill now and the Araucaria tree is still there, I still don't care for them very much but the history of this house is not about me, it is about everyone who ever lived here. Because Johnny Orr cared about this tree I never want it not to be here. I love it because I loved Johnny. And there are still dogs racing under it. That dog may look like a giant hamster but she is a dog, a blurry dog, an action dog, running in the shadow of the Araucaria that Johnny Orr planted many years ago.