The police officer who was 'guarding' us attempted light conversation. She noticed some unfinished patchwork I'd been working on and talked about that. Apparently she had an interest in needlecraft too. I couldn't really engage with her for worrying about the untidiness of the home that they were rampaging through. At last the bearded one appeared. He asked me to come into the kitchen. My heart sank. Had they found cigarette papers, a grain of dope? No. I walked into my kitchen to find one of the officers holding a house plant. Beardy said,
Can you tell me what this is?
I was amazed and relieved and answered,
It's a plant my friend bought me for my birthday. She got it in a florist shop in Wellington Street. You're joking. You can't really think that it's a cannabis plant?
He wasn't joking.
We're taking it with us for investigation.
I got cheeky.
Well, I'll be wanting it back and you'd better water it!
A week later I'd heard no word so I went to the phone box at the bottom of the estate and phoned the police station and got through to the switchboard.
Hello. This is Nelly Moser. I'd like to speak to Sergeant Willis please.
I'm afraid he's not in his office today.
I'd like to leave a message for him.
Ask him if he has completed his investigations regarding my house plant I'd like it returned please.
The switchboard woman tittered and said,
I'll make sure he gets the message.
A couple of days later the door knocked and there standing on the doorstep was one of my unexpected visitors from that morning, the youngest of them, given the shit job of returning my birthday present. I took it from him and noticed it was light.
This plant hasn't been watered since you took it. It's bone dry.
We watered it every day!
I don't believe you.
A couple of months later my sister and I were at a friend's gig in the Smithfield Bar and I noticed Beardy Willis and his drug squad chums sitting at the back. I quietly pointed them out to her,
That's the crowd that took my house plant.
They left soon after and the landlady set two drinks in front of us.
That's from Sergeant Willis.
And that was that. My dizygotheca elegantissima lived on for a few years but eventually died and was never replaced. It never got to be as big as the one in Belfast's Botanic Gardens.
Dizygotheca elegantissima or False Aralia