The Weed Man: six-hour, husband-mandated “lockdown” inspires Welsh author and illustrator’s first novel

Pacing the floor of her Cwmbran home during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic and government lockdown, Nicola Jane John felt frustrated. Unable to indulge in her favourite hobby – swimming – her nervous energy was rubbing off on her husband, who had a brilliant idea. He locked his wife in his study with a chilled bottle of wine and told her not to emerge until she’d put pen to paper and come up with a story for their local newspaper.

The result? Instead of an article, it was a novel – ’The Weed Man’, John’s side-splitting work that turns a former spy into a ferocious killer of weeds, much to his wife’s dismay. Imagine 007 vs. his garden, with uproarious consequences.

Look out! Look out! There are weeds about.

Following his retirement as a top-ranking Secret Service agent in Her Majesty’s government, Professor Gethin David Weedall becomes bored with the tedium of everyday life in suburbia. He misses both the glamour and the danger associated with the assignments which took him to virtually every corner of the globe. 007 had a potent rival.

What to do? The prof simply didn’t know. Then while strolling through his extensive gardens he had a flash of inspiration. WEEDS. Yes of course. WEEDS. Though somewhat unusual, this would become his passion. He would conquer all weeds despoiling his beautifully manicured lawns… to his wife, Sally Anne’s dismay and the loss of intimacy she still craved for.

Unfortunately, things don’t go quite to plan as he runs out of his favourite weedkiller, Devitas. And when Internet shopping goes awry, life becomes complicated. Very complicated.

Read the hilarious misadventures of the hapless professor. And enjoy!

“The story is actually based on my brother-in-law,” says the author. “He’s absolutely obsessed with weeding his lawns. We visited him in Cleveland, not long before the pandemic began, and I was flabbergasted by how much care and attention he gave to his garden. Every morning, he would perform a ritualistic ‘Weed Walk’. It got me thinking about the peculiar state of retirement for brilliant minds like my brother-in-law’s and also what too much free time does to a person. And of course, I was soon going to find out myself!”

Nicola Jane John hails from the fishing port of Aberaeron, West Wales, and currently lives in Cwmbrân. She has both written and, unusually, illustrated her work ‘The Weed Man’ which is published by the international publishing house Pegasus Elliot MacKenzie Ltd.