Garden Centres do not pay their staff huge amounts of money. This is not a criticism. The bosses work hard to keep their costs down, and you cannot make everyone millionaires.
But this is what has lead to our current situation.
Because if staff are not on a decent wage, they let the little things slide. They are too busy worrying about childcare and rent, and do not ensure they have completed all the necessary checks and tasks required by their employers. Which is why none of the staff at the Garden Centre noticed the strange creature in one of the fish tanks
It was clearly not a fish. Long, wavering spines jutted from a jellyish pink body, and one pale eye wobbled on the end of a thin proboscis. Nobody cared. The fish only needed a bit of food crumbled onto the top, and you can easily check your phone at the same time. There is no need to look in the tank at all.
The beast got the size of a melon before anyone noticed it was there. A young couple thinking about buying a lizard commented on how strange and ugly it was. They meant to mention it to the cashier, but got distracted by some potted plants.
Over a Bank Holiday weekend the creature managed to hop out, and taste fresh air for the first time. It was a hard birth into the real world, with lots of wheezing and groaning. By the time the lights came on Tuesday morning, it had crawled over to the garden ornaments, hidden between stone frogs, stalks, and gnomes. By the end of the week, it was the size of a garden bench.
‘That’s a very modern design,’ an old lady said.
It was a conservative place. Nobody made an attempt to buy the monster.
By the next Monday the creature had made its way to the garden. It spines had hardened by then, poking from a rock solid shell. It sat near the swings, and bored children released some energy by swinging and climbing over the top. Their parents were just glad of some peace, and one said what a good idea a conker themed playground toy was.
Overnight, with enough creaking and groaning to rival a galleon, the creature got past the size of the shed, and kept on going. Its spines smashed through the windows of the Garden Centre, knocking over the potted plants, ripping through the cafe, breaking every garden gnome. By first daylight, there was only the creature left. Security was not alerted. Nobody robs garden centres. You would have to be scum to rob a garden centre.
The early traffic went past the spiny behemoth sitting on the pile of bricks and glass and fertiliser. A few wondered just how much this new statue cost, and what a shame the old centre had gone.
We all know by 10 pm the police had been called, and the army arrived soon after. We all know their efforts have not proved successful, and that the beast is advancing towards London. Some of us know a nuclear options has been considered, though whether that will work, nobody knows.
But I know it started in that fish tank, when the creature was so small, you could have crushed it with one hand.
So if we do through this, and if there are Garden Centres in whatever is left, please, make sure you pay your employees properly.