The Martock Beans are looking very sorry for themselves. They were doing fine until very recently - three nice shiny pods and some flowers which would hopefully produce more.
Then came the wet weather and the Attack of the Monster Slugs from Hell.
Within 24 hours they'd reduced the plants to skeletons and even had a go at one of the pods. I was out of slug pellets and didn't have the time to get into Newcastle to buy more.
Then I remembered the little shop on the local high street I'd passed umpteen times before . A pokey little place with a shabby exterior, some plants and rabbit hutches outside. Walking by, it was impossible to see anything inside.
I had to go past it again the other day, so I thought, what the hell, give it a try. Nothing to lose but our Martocks.
Once my eyes became accustomed to the gloom, I realised it was TARDIS-like. Much larger on the inside than the outside. But every square inch of it was crammed with stuff - household, gardening, pets. In fact, because it was nearly closing time, it was also crammed with the stuff which normally sits on the pavement outside.
I could see a small box of slug pellets sitting on a shelf, but I couldn't figure out how I was going to get to them past the piles of other things.
"Can I help you, mate?" came a voice from the darkness at the back of the shop.
"I'm after slug pellets," I said, "but can't figure out how to get round to them."
"Divven't worry, Aa'll fetch them oot."
And from out of the realms of darkness and the past came Rod Stewart!
It was the Rod Stewart of the Faces days, with a big hooter and a ridiculous kind of mullety hairdo. And a limp. And a Geordie accent.
So perhaps it wasn't Rod the Mod. On the other hand, maybe he's tired of his life of fame and riches. Maybe he's gone back to being the down-to-earth guy he used to be and has taken on an old persona. Maybe he really is selling slug pellets in Gateshead.
And could that have been Maggie May he was humming as I walked out the door?