I first met Soom T while I was harvesting early potatoes in my allotment. The sun was beating down and the soil was rich and dark. It had rained a good deal over the last few weeks making the crop a good size after only eleven weeks. I had some salmon in the fridge at home and I was looking forward to boiling these sweet little tubers and smothering them in butter. I was working slowly, enjoying the sun on my neck, feeling the slight ache in my arms from turning the soil with my fork. A pleasant way to spend a Tuesday afternoon.
How do, neighbour, came a woman’s voice from over my shoulder.
I stood and turned to locate the owner of the voice. Over the fence I saw a young woman with wild hair wrapped up in a bandana. She was smiling like the sun was shining, happy to let her beam land on anyone lucky enough to catch it.
Is that a Scottish twang I hear? I asked, lifting my flat cap from my head.
Ay, she said, Glasgow. I moved away for a while to get some me time.
Nothing says ‘me time’ like time spent on the allotment, I said. How long have you had the plot?
Only a month, she said. I’ve been preparing my soil and setting up the plastic. I need to keep that heat in and the bugs out.
What are you planning on growing? I asked. Looks like you are setting up for a whole lot of tomatoes with all those dome houses.
I’ll have a few tomatoes, she said, but mostly herbs.
That’s a lot of space for herbs, I said. Each to their own, I suppose. I have a small patch over there for a bit of Thyme, Rosemary, Mint, and few other little bits. I mostly use them to flavour up meat. You must be a specialist. Do you sell them on the market?
She laughed at that. Sometimes, she said. Mostly for personal use. I don’t have much time for selling as I travel a lot with my work.
Oh really? I said, intrigued. What are you working on when you aren’t growing enough herbs to give the whole, wide world a pinch of flavour?
I’m a toaster, she said.
I’m sorry, I said. I can’t have heard you right, must be the accent. Did you say toaster?
I did, she said. I’m a toaster, flowing over reggae and pretty much any other kind of beat. I go by the name Soom T. How about I give you a sample.
Sure, I said. Some music while I dig up these potatoes would be nice.
Just a second, she said. I watched as she went over to her small shed. Out of the tiny, wooden hut she managed to pull out six speakers bigger than she was and stacked them together. She plugged a microphone into a mixer, put a dubplate on the turntable. The crackle of the record quickly became a bass-heavy riddim, and Soom T performed I Need Weed from the Bong Bong EP(2013) by Mungo’s Hi-Fi.
I didn’t dig any potatoes while the tune played. I didn’t need to. The vibration of the bass brought them to the surface. My teeth rattled. It was sublime.
Herbs? I said, with a grin when she had finished.
Herbs, she said, reflecting my smile back at me. She pulled a spliff the size of a carrot from her back pocket and lit it up. She took a few puffs and offered it over the fence. I declined.
Thanks for the offer, I said, but I have a lot of work to do and I’m trying to keep the weight off. If I smoke that, I’ll be in front of Netflix eating my own body-weight in caramel wafers before you can say ‘Robert Platshorn did nothing wrong’.
It’s not for everyone, she said, laughing, and we’ve been friends ever since.