Mr Beardy lives next door. I don't know whether Mr Beardy is sad or happy, but I reckon Mr Beardy has got things just right.
Mr Beardy is a doctor, who lives in a medium-size Victorian house, within walking distance of the town centre. The Jurassic coast is 15 minutes away in one direction, and Hardy's Dorset lies in t'other. His children have now left for university. Mr Beardy owns a convertible, and, if the weather is nice, he peels down the roof, and drives away with his beard shooting the breeze. He also owns an old motorbike, which he occasionally teases into working order, popping and banging like a bag of old nails. Best of all, though, is Mr Beardy's garden. There is no hint of order or symmetry to Mr Beardy's garden: it's boisterous and ramshackle and wonderful. There are flower beds and garden benches here, a mazy path there, blossoming fruit trees and a small pond to the right, elms and birches and washing lines in the foreground, vegetable patches and a greenhouse in the background, and splitting the garden in twain is a row of bushes shouldering a wooden arch, engirdled with creeping plants and vines.
This is the type of garden I grew up in. Life as a child is an adventure in this type of garden. Too many children today grow up with ordered back-gardens the size of postage-stamps. These children also appear to grow up with no desire greater than to tick the check-boxes for: (i) career, (ii) family, (iii) mortgage, (iv) pension.
An old dog with sad, lonely eyes, who never barks, plays and sleeps and gazes into the house from Mr Beardy's garden. Perhaps his former play-mates have grown-up and forgotten him now they've gone to university. I think Mr Beardy, or his solemn grey-haired wife, should play with him more. Apart from that, however, I think Mr Beardy has got it just right. So here's a toast to Mr Beardy, and all his fellow Beardies, who make the world a more interesting place to live in!