Martin Stannard


The Houseplant Advisor

Following my own old advice I have put the first part
of this, i.e. the part that came out first, at the end or,
to be more precise, near the end. And it’s not always
first idea first place though often it can be if one is able later
to apply objective quality assessment procedures to the first
dribbly emanation of what may prove to be, if the world
owns any justice, a pleasing breakfast diversionary read.

Now that’s out of the way, I’ll get on with it, for you are
I’m sure all ears. Or eyes. Today’s topic is “Houseplants:
Are They Worth The Tears?” My own feeling, if I may make
so bold as to come right out with it, is to echo sentiments
first uttered when the world was younger than it is now
by one who knew what it was to live the life of an emperor
whilst nurturing the belief that all woes are Nature’s way:

Marcus Aurelius (AD 121-180). “Do not waste the remaining
part of your life in thoughts about other people, when you
are not thinking with reference to some aspect of the common
good.” Oh, perhaps that’s not as apt as I first thought. How
about this: “There is a river of creation, and time is a violent
stream. As soon as one thing comes into sight, it is swept past
and another is carried down: it too will be taken on its way.”

My parlour palm is suffering, though I know not from what
as the leaves turn brown and dry and eventually drop from
what the manual describes as “a plant almost impossible to
kill.” As ever, the chances of being allowed to wipe the slate
clean and start over are slim to none. You can don a new
nail varnish if you want to but that’s about as far as they’ll let you
go. People are so demanding. It’s not that they want to like

you it’s more that they don’t like it when you act in a way
they don’t like, as if it’s your job to keep them happy
and not disrupt their world or break the glass of the greenhouse
in which they propagate their never-ending annoyances.
I didn’t know I was born for other people’s ease and pleasure
yet here I am, all learned up and nowhere to go tonight:
I kind of wish I hadn’t spent so much on this dress.




Martin Stannard’s poetry and criticism have been widely published since the late 1970s. His most recent collection is  Poems For The Young At Heart (Leafe Press, 2016). Website:

Comments are closed.