Tuesday, 31 August 2010


(A friend, Lucy, has pointed out that it's difficult to post comments. Has anyone else had a problem? Lord knows how you'll tell me if you have, but if you're having trouble connecting, my apologies! If I find a fault, I'll try to put it right.)

When visiting Gill Richardson's wonderful garden at Keisby, the other day, I was shown this absolutely MUST HAVE perennial, Serratula bulgarica. It was growing almost 9 feet tall, in semi-shade, towering above big persicarias and proving irresistible to bees which fed greedily on the white, thistly flowers.

It flops and slumps a bit drunkenly, as does Rudbeckia 'Herbstsonne' but is not so hopelessly collapsible as Lespedeza, which I love, but whose habit can be a little challenging, especially to neighbouring plants. Gill very sweetly gave me a seedling which has gone into a place of honour in my Island Bed (the bed is a tribute to the late Alan Bloom who invented the things.) Soil there is moist and retentive.

I now grow two Serratula - the other being the low-growing, rosy mauve-flowered S. seoanei. Nice little seed heads!

The mysterious late-arriving swallows - a different pair from the ones who brought off five bouncy babes - which seemed obsessed with our garage had, in fact, occupied an ancient nest in a concealed part of the building. To my amazement, yesterday, two young, fledged birds flew out into a vicious northerly wind, coaxed by their anxious parents. I doubt they'll make it, to South Africa - the odds are horribly long, even for mature birds (try this link) - but I hope they do. It's so heartening to have had two pairs nesting with us, after such a long absence.

I've also cut our meadows and hauled off the 'hay.' A hard task, even though they're tiny, but my timing for once seemed right. This morning, the first colchicum showed a tight little bud. And on the thin bits, of which, I'm glad to say, there are plenty, I can see yellow rattle seed lying, ready to pop up and impoverish the grass next year. Cowslips are now at plague proportions, still seeding with staggering fecundity.

Ahem. Hrrrrh Hmmmm. I was moodily putting diesel into my car, the other day, when I saw something that made me want to kick the pump over and drive off furiously, crushing the bunches of lurid dahlias on sale, and knocking over the racks of unsold barbecue charcoal (shite summer, wasn't it?)

It was just a word, but it pushed my nuke button with a vengeance. The word was 'Excellium.' What is that supposed to mean? Would my car go faster because I had been filling it, not with smelly, overpriced, HIDEOUSLY over-taxed diesel, but with sleek, smooth, accomplished and feel goodish stuff called Excellium? Then I noticed that the petrol dispensers were also called 'Excellium.' So it isn't so much a diesel as a kind of over-all blessing. Not only am I buying Total fuel, but, thanks to their wonderfulness, I'm also receiving a special honeydewed gloriosity called Total Excellium. Total bullshit, more like.

What is it with these Graeco-Latin-cum-Chartered Beancounterish neologisms? Why do they all have to copy each other? I used to pay my electricity bills to the East Midlands Electricity Board in Nottingham - where England's most beautiful girls come from, apparently. Now we pay some distant, anonymous giant called E-on. Might as well call it E-off, for the number of powercuts we have, in my part of the world, or Eyore, for intellect of those who run this ex-nationalised heap.

I used to know an insurance company called Norwich Union. I believe a certain Norfolk turkey person worked there, before he began to twizzle. Now it's Aviva. Then there's that bus firm called Arriva, when their vehicles frequently don't arrive.

The Germans are at it, too. I spotted a headline about a firm called Infineon which has fallen prey to the massive chip manufacturers (silicon, rather than potato) Intel.

Intel is guilty of the most enfuriating little musical catch phrase ever transmitted on television: dumb-dumb...dumb-dumb! unless you also count that nauseating little 'Mmm-mmm - Danone' on the bowel bug ads.

Then we have Expedia, I wish they'd all stop, because it's very irritating indeed.

And another moderately interesting thing is that when I Googled 'Excellium' I got this: So there's another lot doing the Excellium thing. Might those two get cross with each other over copyright or anything, or is Excellium a real word?

For the future, I can see some likely name changes coming along. Here are a few that I've heard are being tried out with certain Focus Groups and potential target audiences:

Nappi-on - a well-known supplier or baby accoutrements.

Ex-Hortia - a certain August Society which used to be connected with Horticulture, now re-structured as a children's theme park company.

Pretentia - the new name for the Granta publishing company, also being considered for the re-vamp of the Simplon Orient Express.

Mediocreon - the post Coalition BBC. (Don't get me started!) Sherlock was quite good, but not that brilliant. A sort of Dr Who meets Doyle with Sonic iPhones. By the way, why is the music in TV drama serials so awful, nowadays? Indeed, why is modern film music so rubbish? Remember Ry Cooder's wonderful soundtrack in Paris Texas? Lawrence of Arabia, or the Zither in theThe Third Man?

Stagger-homeum - new name for the massive Peterborough Beer Festival which I attended last Tuesday.

That's enough neol0gisms (ed)

NEXT WEEK: Lincolnshire rhyming slang and a review of the Jonathan Ross Encyclopaedia of Advanced Vegetable Gardening. Watch this space.

I'm listening to some Schubert Lieder, sung by the incomparable Ian Bostridge.

This day last year, was Bank Holiday Monday. I stuck my first cuttings, in my beautiful new greenhouse, Wendy and we watched Lawrence of Arabia - the director's cut.

This week's film was Andrei Tarkovsky's The Sacrifice. It's a masterpiece, but I won't burden you with a comment. I'd need to watch it a second time, because I feel I've missed more than half of what's there. I did not sleep easily, for thinking about it. You might find this link of interest, though!

Happy September.


  1. Swallows obviously have the same survival mechanism as Verbena bonariensis - no matter how enthusiastically we weed, there's always a few survivors in our borders; judging by the hordes of swallows that seem to be using our house as staging post right now, there'll be plenty arriving in south Africa even if they have a few in-flight casualties.

    And power companies aren't all bad -

  2. No probs leaving comments. Your post has made me laugh, a very amusing rant and I did enjoy some of your neolgisms

  3. I do love your rants Nigel, very cheering! You are so right about film music. Worse than that is the constant chop and change of inappropriate background music in so many TV programmes. I think it is because they now have databases that some researcher can use to find bursts of music that have some vague relation title-wise to the matter in hand. Either that or advert makers have appropriated all the decent sound tracks.

  4. Your rant is appreciated!
    No problems commenting, but some people might have trouble as the comments are embedded in the blog.

  5. I agree with your naming rant entirely, and have spent ages trying to come up with suitable lincolnshire rhyming slang because of you. Well, at least two minutes.

    I want to do something with 'mardy'.

    'Mardy' Grass, arse?