When my youngest son Marc  met the girl who would later become his wife, they were eager for both their sets of parents to meet.  Marc had warned me that Lisa’s parents were quite strait-laced, her grandfather was a vicar, and in a roundabout way he was telling  me to watch my p’s and q’s around them.  I took the hint, and Sam and I agreed to meet them at a local abbey they liked going to which had a nature walk and also a café where we could have tea and scones afterwards.  Nature walks aren’t really my cup of tea, but hey, my son wanted me to go on one and start up a good relationship with his future in-laws.  How could I say no?

The abbey was closed to visitors on that day, which would have interested me more.  However, I set off along seemingly never-ending paths that meandered across several acres of well-tended gardens, nodding and smiling to Lisa’s parents and making superficial small talk.  Lisa’s mother I found was very knowledgeable about plants, but it was all I could do not to yawn and rub my eyes with boredom.

Marc is also not too enamoured of gardens, and was doing his usual route march out in front, whilst Lisa walked with her parents and Sam.  I stepped up the pace and caught up with Marc.

“How am I doing?”

“You’re doing fine, Mum.  Don’t worry.”

The others were schlepping along listening to Lisa’s mother.  I stood chatting to Marc waiting for them to catch up, whilst idly looking around as I did so.  I could see that each plant along the route was labelled with its Latin name, and really, that was my downfall because I then spotted this one….

Rubus cockburnianus


Whatever joker gave this poor plant its name? Yes, look it up on Google.  It’s there, and here is its description:

Rubus cockburnianus (white-stemmed bramble) is a species of flowering plant in the family Rosaceae.  It is endemic to China.

Have you ever been in a situation where you are helpless with laughter?  When I pointed out the name to Marc all essence of gentility was gone, and we were clutching each other and almost weeping.  Of course the others caught up quickly and wanted to know what we were laughing at.  Lisa and Sam saw the funny side of it, and there was almost a crack of a smile from her father.  However, her mother remembered her sheltered upbringing at the last moment and kept her face expressionless.

How can you not laugh when you see a name like that?  Oh dear, Stevie had put her foot in it again…