I think it was my involvement with the Cannon family that made me think of having my own nursery. It wasn’t that I wanted to be rich, more that I could have the freedom to do things the way I wanted to and I would be involved in something I could be passionate about. Obviously I wound need an income but I wasn’t interested in all the trappings that went with being wealthy. I love plants, I love watching them germinate, I love tending them, I love propagating them and, imagining how much pleasure they’re going to give, I think I’ll enjoy selling them. Knowing the Cannon family had just provided me the appreciation of what running a business would involve and given me the confidence to try it out for myself.
I felt indebted to Sophie for her encouragement, and for putting in the effort and finding the place for me. I’d been so negative, so sure I’d never be able to find any suitable premises I’d really made very little made any effort myself. I was also touched that Sophie was prepared to give/loan me money to help me buy the nursery. But I wanted to be independent of her, I wanted to be able to keep the business and my relationship separate.
Once we’d found the premises and come up with a business plan I went to several banks for their support and was shocked with their reaction as they showed no inclination to give me a loan unless I could provide some extra security against it – I thought the nursery premises would be sufficient. When I told Sophie the news she offered to provide surety to the bank. I don’t think she could believe their attitude as she’d always found them very accommodating.
“One rule for the rich and one for the poor,” I said. “To those that have shall be given.”
I thanked her for her generosity but said I’d see if my parents could help. I think she was a little offended but I tried to explain that I didn’t want anything to spoil our relationship if the business went sour. When I phoned home I had very different reactions from John, my dad, and Wendy, my mum, when I told them of the situation. Wendy was pleased I’d found something I wanted to do and offered to help both financially and practically. She said she would have no problem guaranteeing a bank loan and would enjoy growing plants for me to sell. This was another good idea of Sophie’s. John, on the other hand, was very negative about the whole idea.
“I never saw my son as a businessman,” he said sadly. “I think you’ve been too influenced by your current girlfriend and her capitalist father.”
“John, it’s true I have been influenced by them to some extent but I’ll be doing what I want to do and I’ll be free to do things how I want to. I’ll never be a capitalist like David Cannon. I’m just not that interested in money and the world of status symbolism – flash cars, Rolex watches and so on – that leaves me cold. I’d like to be able to make the nursery successful enough to support me and my family, if I have one, in comfort but that’s all.”
“Well we’ll see.”
“Any way you’ve often said how you regret your own career; how you’ve felt you always operated with your hands behind your back. So I can’t see why you’re so negative about the idea. Wendy’s already offered to help by guaranteeing a bank loan but if you feel that way I’ll have to decline her offer. I know you always like to agree on everything.”
“No Tim. I’m sorry I’ve been negative. I’m willing to accept that I’m just a bigoted old man who is out of step with the world. If your mother wants to help you I’ll be happy to accept her decision. I’m sorry I expressed my doubts.”
“Are you sure?” I said anxiously.
“Yes, I’m sure. I wish you good luck. And I’m sure Wendy will benefit if she’s going to be involved. It’ll give her life more purpose. I could help in my little way by advising you how to make your nursery energy efficient. I’ll have to come and have a look and then come back and think of what to do.”
I was relieved and felt great affection for him. I was happy with the support my parents were prepared to give me – I’d made my choice and they would do what they could to help. I couldn’t help comparing their attitude to that of David. He had made the career choice for Sophie and she had had to go along with it.
I had been impressed with the way Sophie had helped me and made it possible for me to have a future that appealed to me and became more certain that, in spite of the different ways we had been brought up, we could have a successful long-term relationship. I knew Sophie was unhappy living with her father and I wasn’t happy living in the house I shared with Chakka so I started to wonder whether we should get married. We were virtually living together already and spent every opportunity we could to be with each other. The more I thought about it the more I was convinced that was the way ahead. She was a lovely caring person, generous to a fault, and I thought she’d make a great mother. I thought of discussing the idea with Gordon first but I thought he was almost certain to be negative about it bearing in mind his current state. In the end I phoned my sister Teresa and asked her if she thought I was mad to even consider proposing to Sophie. Her reply rather took me back.
“Have you read a book called Future Shock?”
“Well the basic concept is that each major change in one’s life creates stress and if you take more than one major step in your life at the same time it creates so much stress that it takes years to get back to normal. So if you start up your new nursery business and get married at the same time it’s a big risk.”
“Well setting that aside what do you think?”
“Sophie’s a lovely girl. No doubt about that. The only other problem I see apart from the future shock is the huge disparity in wealth between the two of you and this is bound to cause problems. The main reason for divorce is arguments about money.”
“Thanks for those words of wisdom. I can see I’ll have to be careful. I’ll take what you’ve said on board.”
“I was only playing devils advocate. I hope you aren’t offended. And good luck with your nursery idea.”
“Thanks, sis, hope to see you soon.”
I don’t know why, maybe my youth, but Teresa’s warnings made it easy suddenly to decide.