Thursday, 30 July 2009


The Mother of Parliaments has collapsed into summer recess and no doubt its brow-beaten and expenses-ridden members will be cavorting on the sands, canoodling in the limpid waters of the Adriatic or careering about their constituencies, trying to patch up leaky credibilities and pretend to be looking forward to the next General Election.

I had considered taking a short sabbatical from this 'ere blog, but simply couldn't break off without paying a brief tribute to He Who Got Me Blogging. I gather that today (30th July) is a certain Special Day, and that the Award Winning Journalist, Millinery Expert, Blogmaster, Plantsman, Gardener, Garden Designer, Garden Writer, Frenetic Lecturer, Sparkly Presenter and absolutely faultless and flawless all round Good Geezer has just made his half century.

Polite round of applause from the Pavilion, please, but do remember that even the best batsmen walk on eggs, a bit, when their first 50 is up, and often go completely to pieces as the 100 approaches. This could not happen to our AWJ who shows poise and coolness to the ultimate degree.

I think I first met him on his garden at Chelsea a decade or so ago. I remember being marginally impressed by a path paved with rusty washers but being absolutely knocked sideways by the richness of his planting. Intense blues and vibrant oranges, I seem to recall, and a cunning use of levels to make the flora look as though it was floating about in a wafty layer of luscious colours.

Another pleasant memory was going, one year, to the Garden Writers' Guild Annual Selfcongratulatory Luncheon at which he performed as an absolutely peerless compére. I had expected to be bored stupid but spent the whole bloated event laughing like a drain.

An unerring eye for colour.

More recently we worked together, doing some of the provincial theatres with our joint show Green With Envy. We got locked out of the Gaiety Theatre in the Isle of Man, were shaken by an earthquake at Whitby and broke all attendance records with an audience of eight at Lytham Saint Annes. His computer bust at Barrow in Furness and the zip to my fly broke in Ludlow, meaning that we didn't dare work with secateurs that evening.

JAS always sniffs out the best plants.

His performance on stage was - is - exhilarating, sometimes frightening, usually unexpected but always in perfect connection with his audiences. I'll never forget his impersonating a lawn mower, when trying to dissuade elderly middle class men to do away with their pride and joy - their lawns. Indeed, whenever I'm cutting the grass at home, I trudge behind the mower with an idiotic grin on my face, remembering his act.

So, without further ado, here's to the dear old chap - well, not old at all, actually. Just rather nicely mellowed and mature, like a couple of bottles of special Madeira I've got in my shed, or a tangy truckle of cheddar.

I will be visiting friends on the day, and forbidden computer access, so I'm posting this in advance, hoping it will appear at the appropriate moment.

Good enough to nurture in a Versailles Tub.

I'm listening to Schubert's Der Winterreise - a re-mastered recording by Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears. One should get into the mood, and it looks like winter outside.

I've watched Andrew Davies adaptation of Sense and Sensibility for BBC. Hugely enjoyable Austen, done rather well. The DVD was free with the Daily Mail. I believe the PG purchased the paper just to get the DVD.

On this day in 2007 the hard drive on my iPod broke. The replacement iPod - a tool as essential to civilised life as a lavatory, cooker and fridge - is still running beautifully, however, and it holds much more music.


  1. May all the suns smile upon you and all your multifarious endeavours, oh wise one. Thank you for this I am deeply touched - even though you published that picture of me with weird hair.
    I am forever grateful to those who put us together: especially as you are one of the few people with whom I can share a stage and still look quite youthful.
    Happy Birthday to your younger twins.

  2. What a lovely 'speech' about an obviously great friend. I wish I had a friend like you to sing my praises - it's my 30th soon and I dread it. Will anyone have a single stab at making the world see how delightful I am? I very very seriously doubt it.
    Lucky you to have a chum like JAS, though no doubt he would think the same about having a friend like you. Oh, it's all getting far too lovey dovey. *air kisses*

  3. Happy (if somewhat belated) birthday to James

  4. A wonderful tribute to a top chap - and a great excuse to use those shots without needing to accompany them with a blackmail note (James - your dodgy haircuts are apparently not limited to the pages of Gardener's World magazine.

  5. Just so you know you bring to this one reader of your blog much sunshine. You are like a virtual flower so I hope you translate this post as a thank you for your blogging time.