The cauliflower was on the fence. It sat there, wrapped in plastic packaging, nestled between two wrought iron pickets. The day was bright but cold. Mid-morning sun threw the shadow of the fence and the cauliflower on the pavement, creating a scarecrow-like image. This was Ramney Road.
Neighbourhood cats were the first to examine the strange object. Although the fence was not one on which the cats easily trod, they cautiously approached it, sniffed from all sides and declared it harmless. Penny the calico, in whose territory the fence was, promptly became the cauliflower’s guard.
Two elderly ladies saw the cauliflower on their usual walk. “Well would you look at that, Doris!” exclaimed the first lady. “A cauliflower! On a fence!”
“Such notions people have these days,” the second lady shook her head. “I wonder if it’s one of those interrenet things.”
Another passer-by, a thin man in his thirties with a roll-up between his lips, paused in front of the cauliflower. He took out the joint, put it back in his mouth and took it out again. Dread came over him. “The witches have come at last!”
He then hurried away, lest the witches should get him.
A bunch of builders in safety vests and hard hats passed the cauliflower on the way to their building site. “Look, Wojtek,” the one that was pushing a wheelbarrow pointed at it, “there’s your dinner!”
“Yeah, you’ll be eating liquid asphalt tonight,” retorted the unbothered Wojtek.
Kristian, teenage boy who lived next door, off school with the flu, watched the goings-on with amusement from his bedroom window.
“Did you put the cauliflower on the fence?” asked his aunt Gia who came to check up on him while his dads were at work.
“Me? No. I looked out the window like ten minutes before you came and it was there already.”
At first she wondered what he found so entertaining about a cauliflower on the fence that he sat at the window watching it, but soon she joined him there. She made him soup, a cup of coffee for herself, wrapped the boy in a big scarf and together they watched the street as if it was the latest hot release on Netflix.
Later she went to the kitchen to prepare some sandwiches. When she returned with a tray, he had a big grin on his face.
“You won’t believe who’s here.”
The subject of his remark was Andrew Jones, upcoming star of politics, local councillor and a candidate for Parliament in the next general election. Despite being on the side of politics which she favoured, meaning the left, Gia didn’t trust him. And it wasn’t just the usual not trusting politicians feeling. “I get bad vibes off him,” she’s say. She knew he lived in this neighbourhood but had never met him before.
Now he was accompanied by that horrible busybody of a woman that lived at number ten.
“Be right back,” said Gia and left the bedroom.
“Where you going?” Kristian called, but got no answer. He saw his aunt come out of the house.
Gia stopped at the front yard, acting inconspicuously, her smartphone in her hand. Penny the calico cat jumped through the pickets from the front yard next door towards her. “Oh hello kitty-kitty-kitty,” Gia bent down and scratched the cat behind her ear. Meanwhile, the politician and the busybody woman stopped in front of the cauliflower.
Gia, hidden behind a dustbin, got the camera on her smartphone ready. She aimed at the two and selected the video button.
“What’s this?” Jones asked.
Gia tapped record.
“Immigrants live in this house, you know,” said the busybody. “God knows what ritual this is. Nightmare—you hardly ever hear English on this street anymore.”
The cat was rubbing herself against Gia’s legs.
“Yes I noticed,” said the politician.
“Back in the day, everyone on this street used to know each other. Now it’s all foreigners. These salam-alaykums are the worst.”
“I assure you, once I get voted in, I mean to deal with this issue. Return Britain to the British, is my motto.”
They resumed their walk. Gia stopped the recording and gave the cat the final pat. “And this, my feline friend, is what you call a scoop.”
After three o’clock, when Gia popped to the corner shop to get snacks and cookies, several of Kristian’s schoolmates gathered near the cauliflower on their way from school, taking selfies with it.
“Tyrone put it there,” said one boy.
“No way,” Tyrone said.
A girl with long neat braids snorted. “As if Tyrone knew what a cauliflower looked like.”
“Hey, Kristian!” shouted the first boy pointing at Kristian’s window. “You skiving!”
“No, he’s really ill,” Gia said. “You want some cookies, kids? Plenty enough for everyone.” She opened the box and offered them. Each kid took one cookie with very polite thanks. They were good kids.
“Who put the cauliflower there?” asked the girl with the braids.
“Who knows? It’s been there since morning.”
“Hashtag friends with vegetables,” said another girl tapping at her smartphone.
How about hashtag racist politician gets caught out, Gia thought. She went back inside.
The street got busy with parents picking up their children from nearby primary school.
“Mummy, why is there a cauliflower on the fence?” asked one little boy.
“It means you have to eat your veggies,” answered the mother inattentively, her mind focused on the tasks that awaited her at home.
By the end of the day, the video of Andrew Jones was shared on all social media platforms all over the country. Gia could only gloat as it was confirmed he was expelled from the party. “This is what it’s like being proven right and I like it,” she said to Penny the calico cat.
The video also generated numerous memes about being caught out by vegetables.
Shy Tyrone finally plucked up the courage to ask the girl with the braids out on a date after taking a picture of her next to the cauliflower. Although they remained friends, it was a big moment for him as it was the first time he asked a girl out.
The stressed out mother’s little son resolved to eat his vegetables. He didn’t want them to end up on the fence.
The stoner guy decided to cut down on weed. Getting high was one thing, hallucinations were something else.
The wheelbarrow-pushing builder realised he didn’t know his co-workers well and so the next day after work treated everyone for a round at the pub. They had a truly great time.
Doris asked her grandson to teach her how to work with that interrenet thing. With time she learnt how to use online banking and kept in touch with the granddaughter that now lived in New Zealand.
A farmer pulled up his van in front of a house in the street to the right angle of Ramney Road. Mrs Higgins, his regular customer, was after some cauliflowers this morning. The farmer handed her two of his best specimens.
“There you go, Mrs Higgins. Oops!”
Mrs Higgins dropped one of the cauliflowers.
“Oh dear, am I clumsy today,” she sighed.
“Never mind, Mrs Higgins, I’ll give you another one. Here takes this.”
Cauliflowers and money exchanged, Mrs Higgins and the farmer each went their way.
The dropped cauliflower rolled away from Mrs Higgins’ house.
A short time later, Stanley, the local drunkard, was walking down this street. He stumbled over something.
He looked down. “Now, what ees this?”
He bent down and picked the cauliflower. “Look at yer there on da ground by yersself.”
He walked on with the cauliflower in his hand. “Now whaddya say to all this plastic? Do they not say it’s harm-harmful to the environ… environment? That chap David Atterbo… Attenteboro… Tennebro…” his tongue stumbled over the great naturalist’s name, “the one on the telly that talks to animals… he says so… polluting the oceans, it do… plastic… bloody plastic.”
He rounded the corner to Ramney Road. “Tellya what…” he stopped in front of one house.
The problem was, he forgot what. He stood there scratching his chin, trying to remember. “Tellya what…” he repeated. He stuck the cauliflower between two pickets. “Yer wait here.”
And he wobbled off.