Autumn cucurbits stir up thoughts of pumpkin pie, trick or treat and other bits of American culture which we seem to have adopted. Can you actually eat these things, or are they just for gathering dust and bulking out harvest festivals?
Never break shocking news to anyone when they're driving. It can have terrible consequences for the car, and for road safety. It was done to me, this week, and I almost caused a multiple pile-up on the A1 just outside Stevenage.
This was not trivial stuff like being sacked. Or a death in the family, or winning the National Lottery. No, this one was a biggy, a head spinner, a pants dampener. And the blow was struck by the BBC! Bastards!! I heard, on Radio Noos, that the God of my youth, the Wunderkind of the hippie era, master of the ironic lyric, the original subterranean, tambourine rattlin', non-looking-back Artist - OK, also a bit Woody Guthrie-ish from time to time, and capable of dreadful harmonica playing - but still the absolute main, main man of the Beatle-infested sixties, Bob Dylan has made a cheeeeeezy Christma album. Look what the Indie said about it.
I know he did it for charity but they played bits of it on the radio - Dean Martin after a partial laryngectomy - and by the time I'd reached Sandy, I was in tears.
I won't say anything more about it, but think I will have to buy the album, just as a reminder that when one grows old, one should don woolly cardy and soft slippers, pour oneself a series of enormous whiskies, and sit in the dark, with the phone off the hook, watching Bette Davis films.
This is by way of a 'holding' post, just to keep in touch while I recover from the Dylan aberration, but a couple of things:
1. I have a question - and I do hope you'll take the trouble to respond:
Have you tried navigating the new RHS Website? I have, but I don't want to say a word until I know how you all find it. If you haven't done so yet, please log on here and if you feel like it, tell me what you think.
2. Tomorrow is the new yesterday. On BBC's Farming Today, all this week - it's on at 5.45 each morning! - they've been discussing organic farming. Apparently, consumption of organic food is falling rapidly and one of the reasons given was that shoppers are more concerned, these days, about whether food is local, rather than organic.
This startling example of consumers behaving exactly like sheep and following fashion, reminded me of a thing they used to have in Private Eye, as a satire on folk saying idiotic things like 'White is the new black.' and so on.
So I turned over in bed and said to the Photographer General, 'Local is the new organic.' She responded by laughing uproariously, leaping up and making me a delectable cup of tea.
So how about a few 'X is the new Y?' Go on, you're bound to think of something!!
Here for starters:
iPhone is the new Blackberry
Ilex crenata is the new box hedging.
Heucheras are the new Hostas
Pak Choi is the new curly kale
Butternut squash is the new marrow
Monty Don is not the new Alan Titchmarsh
Better examples welcomed, for the good of Mankind.
Cones of Pinus strobus, weeping resinous tears - clearly, they've heard about the Dylan album.
I'm reading. A brilliant translation, by Hussain Haddawy, of the Arabian Nights. It's in two volumes and gives a clear insight into Mediaeval life in the Middle East. It also shows how profoundly changed and degraded are the fairy tales of chaps like Ali Baba, Sindbad and 'Al Al-din, whose name got corrupted to Aladdin. Some bits are jolly rude, too.
I'm not listening to Bob Dylan. There will be forgiveness, but I need time to heal.
This time in 2005 I was in Aldeburgh to see Britten's Opera Albert Herring at Snape Maltings. The day after the performance, we saw a flock of Common Crossbills, between Aldeburgh and Thorpeness.