Earlier today I was walking into town with my 9 year old when we passed some of North Norfolk's finest middle-aged ladies working on one of the many lovely floral displays in our town. There they were, sporting high-viz jackets in the sweltering midday heat pruning, weeding, watering and planting.
My son sidled up to me wearing a rather perplexed, concerned expression. He tugged at my sleeve and threw a glance in the direction of the gardeners. "Mummy", he hissed. "What do you think they've done wrong?" Now it was my turn to be bemused. I looked across at the bank where they were working, searching for a badly placed petunia or an overlooked weed, but all looked perfection to me. "What do you mean, wrong?", I asked. "Well", he replied. "Aren't they doing that thing that you get instead of going to prison?"
I had to stifle a guffaw. He clearly though that the good folk of the 'North Walsham in Bloom' committee were minor felons, serving their time in the public glare, and I began to imagine what sorts of crimes these green-fingered grannies might be guilty of. Perhaps one of them had been speeding round Waitrose on a mobility scooter? Another one looked the sort who might have been caught pilfering a packet of Tena Lady from Roys, during a senior moment, of course, not on purpose. Other possible misdemeanours included force-feeding grandchildren choc-ices (my own Welsh grandmother would have been hung, drawn and quartered for that one!) and wearing pop socks with a skirt.
The more I think about it, the more being a middle-aged delinquent appeals. I think I'd better start making my list now!