Hullooo! Huzzah!!! And how lovely to be alive, in this force 9 gale, watching all my late winter pretties being lashed to pieces. Lovely!
Crocus imperati 'de Jaeger' - first bulb to bloom this year, beating even the first snowdrops.
I promised to deliver a serious rant, this week, about - well, you'll remember this 'teaser' from my last post.
'. . . here's a vision of 2050:-
Nine billion people, a crashing climate, new top dog superpowers replacing the old top dog superpowers and a looming resources crisis. Food for thought? And probably not for eating.'
But I'm afraid you'll have to wait another week. Playing on Twitter has neutralised too much of my bile, for some strange reason, and I've come over all benign. And it's sunny, even though the gale is howling, and things at last are beginning to look really pretty, in the garden, so I'll save the food controversy for next time
So for or now, let's begin with some really, really bad things.
1. Mubarak's hair dye.
2. England's post-ashes cricket.
3. The return of Just a Minute on Radio 4. In its early days, around the time that Oliver Cromwell died, this was an amusing programme with some jolly contributors. But now, like a number of shows I could mention, it has had it's day and should be kindly but quickly euthanised. In fact I wish it would, like Fred Chopin's awful 'Minute Waltz,' fade away - but for good.
This is an important issue because Radio 4 is a precious remnant of the once wonderful BBC. Since virtually all network television is unwatchable, Radio 4 is almost all that remains for anyone who likes to think, judge, consider and generally to cogitate about things. Radio 4 also has some of the best comedy and drama - Saturday's dramatisation ofChandler's The Big Sleep was done deliciously and I had my tranny radio tied to my waist while I gardened. (OK, so it's sad, but I couldn't stop listening.)
Cyclamen coum - toughest little brutes in the garden
When I take over, as Commissar of Radio Four, there'll be quite a few sacred cattle for the chop. Woman's Hour will only be allowed to remain if equal time is given for Man's Hour. And on Man's Hour it will be perfectly acceptable to discuss intimate 'man' things like cars, football, real ale and husband bashing, not to mention cringy stuff like circumcision and bicycle saddle design. (If they can do cringy on Woman's Hour - and boy do they ever! – we blokes should be allowed it, too.)
You and Yours will be cut to five minutes and broadcast at 5.40am. Intense, boring documentaries on current affairs will be banned between Saturday midday and 6am on Mondays. The Material World, Costing the Earth, Home Planet, Farming Today, From Our Own Correspondent and 'In Our Time' will be protected by a PPO - Programme Preservation Order' - just like hallowed trees, so that no future, power-mad, ratings-chasing, celeb-crazed Controller could kill them off.
All programmes that have 'phone in' sections will be banned forthwith.
Oh, and Gardeners Question Time will also go. It was fine in its day, just after the war, but not now. For incurable addicts, they could re-run programmes from 1960 to 1965, since the same questions are asked every year. Either that, or let there be proper gloves-off punch-ups on the best way to zap vine weevils and prune wisterias, and no more of this pussy-footing mutual politeness.
In place of GQT there'll be 30 minutes a week of Gardening Actualité - that is to say, a mic dangled near or attached to someone actually gardening. NO CELEBRITY GARDENERS - corduroyed or otherwise - would be allowed near the programme, neither would those who dye their hair, Mr T (see Bad Thing Number 1.) Indeed, gardeners selected for microphone attachment will be just ordinary blokes down our allotments. And the programme will go out live, so swearing, farting, grunting and tool breaking would be part of the show.
4. Some berk has paid several hundred quid for a blasted snowdrop. But it was a poculiform one, so that's ok then. Read about it here and here.
5. The woman who lives virtually next door to me has had a dense and beautifully screening shelter belt hacked into a number of hideous, naked trunks. I can now see into our neighbour's (not the tree hacker's) conservatory - can even see what magazines they're reading. And as I realised, while standing naked at the window, scratching those parts of me that in polite society are best left unmolested, the neighours can see straight into our bedroom. The shelter belt was of Prunus cerasifera with some laurel, sycamore and other odd shrubs and trees. It was never profoundly pretty, except when in full blossom, but folk would pick the cherry plums, in summer and the whole lot gave of its greenness. Any living vegetation is better to look at than no vegetation. A flock of long-tailed tits foraged in it every day. Now it's ugly, barren and bare and the tits are gone. I don't know why she had it cut down. Perhaps she resented others eating the cherry plums; perhaps she has an obsession with tidiness and the innate hatred of trees that seems to be common in Lincolnshire.
5. Er, that's it for bad things. We'll pass on Cameron and multiculturalism, fire and flood in Australia, the disgusting parade of obscene peep shows on Channel 4 and the fact that the blasted cats have shat on my most precious winter aconite, Eranthis hyemale '
And now for the good things:
1. Our darling little Cyclamen coum are rushing into flower. The one on the picture isn't mine. Mine are more wind-mangled and sparse, but it's the same thing. This is the toughest little cyclamen in cultivation and seems to put up with a wide range of conditions from partial shade to baking sun. It is happy in our rough grass, as well as in the chilly, east facing border in our front garden - made more chilly still by the tree feller.
Hepatica nobilis in flower - this one exhibited by Ashwood Nurseries.
2. The hepaticas are coming. Someone tweeted me, this morning, asking what they were, so here's a piccy. These weren't photographed in my garden. Ours are being blown in the hurricane, at present, so I've pulled this pic from our libray. It was shot, like the Cyclamen, by the PG. (I did the crocus at the top.)
3. We've confirmed our booking for Berlin, in September. We're going to the entire Das Ring Des Nibelungen and it's booked. Huzzah - or should I say Hoch! Hoch! Hoch!
4. Our Grimsby Fish Van can supply un-dyed kippers on the bone. Mmmmm! If you soak the kipper in very hot water for ten minutes, and then cook it sealed, in a microwave, the saltiness is reduced and the flavour is as good as I've ever tasted. Plus, the house doesn't stink of smoked herring for a week afterwards.
This week's film was Lagaan - starring Aamir Khan and directed by Ashutosh Gowariker – a Bollywood classic, set in the 1850s, about British colonialism in India. To avoid paying an unjust tithe or 'Lagaan,' the locals are given the option of a three day cricket match. If the Indian side wins, the tax will be waived but if it loses, the tax will be trebled. A gripping tale beautifully told.
I'm listening to the builders hammering. Work has begun on repairs to our house after the fire before Christmas. We have no wall on part of the house and the door to the guest room is nailed up. The only way into that room is by climbing the scaffolding.
This day in 2007 I went to Stamford for a haircut and walked on the Thurlby Slipe Nature reserve at dusk, watching barn owls hunting.
If you're read this far, you're an absolute saint and I love you - unless you delight in wanton tree felling. Oh, that' reminds me. I've just read Roger Deakin's superb book Wildwood. Anyone who loves nature and has a slightly pervy lust for wood should read this book What an irony that I was reading it when the trees opposite were being mutilated. Ah me!!!