Opinion

Approaching wisteria moment

By John Lewis

Sometimes you wake up and realise the things you hate are actually the things you love and you want to re-marry your horrible first wife.

For instance, verandah wisteria can generate enough hate to fuel a hundred years war of mediaeval magnitude.

When it starts appearing in the bedroom, and then slaps you in the face when you produce clippers — hate becomes boiling rage.

I spent 20 years fighting my wisteria’s relentless march across the verandah and into my home.

Two years ago I paid a brave man to cut the giant tangle of knots down and cart it away.

He deserved the Costa Georgiadis Cross for acts of the greatest heroism in circumstance of extreme gardening danger.

I then brought in a digger to rip out the roots and sat back to admire a job well done. I poured a glass of sparkling Gewurtzschlosh and looked forward to a relaxing leaf litter-free summer of shadecloth and sky views.

Two years on, I miss the damn thing.

The space looks empty and coldly corporate.

I miss the wisteria’s sweet spring perfume that reminded me of early childhood summers packed with promise.

I miss its emerald blanket, which filtered the sunlight into watery ripples on the verandah boards.

I even miss its seed pods, which at the right temperature, always burst like rifle shots, sending seeds into window panes and Prince Finksi scurrying for cover under the table.

I’ve even toyed with the notion of planting another wisteria.

But that’s definitely like re-marrying your ex-wife.

The one that bled you dry and promised the world but never delivered a single thing except misery.

The same pain will be there in 10 years time.

The same quarrels and slaps, the same doubts and regrets.

As it is with gardening, so it is with human behaviour and that dark mirror of ourselves — politics.

As the state election nears, we are now in a wisteria moment.

Do we replant the old wisteria and look forward to the promise of shimmering dappled light and sweet summer scents produced by the familiar roots once again?

Do we forget the pain and nagging doubts of our first marriage and re-attach ourselves to the traditional and the tried?

Or do we build our own verandah cover, unique to our own house and garden with limitless views?

A place which does not rely for shade upon a giant canopy of branches which threatens to slowly strangle the entire edifice with unthinking conformity.

Before I stretch this conceit to breaking point — let’s just say I won’t be re-planting my wisteria or remarrying my first wife.

History only repeats if you forget its mistakes.

John Lewis is chief of staff at The News.