Wednesday, 31 March 2010


Just a quick post this week, mainly to wish you all a very productive, fulfilling, and enjoyable Easter week-end. If you plan to be devotional on Friday, may your devotions be devout; if you're intending to listen to the Good Friday Music from Wagner's last music drama Parsifal, you'll be in excellent company, 'cos that's what I plan to do while the weather commits its usual acts of Easter malice outside. Misery finds comfort, don't you think?

And I haven't edited or read this through, so apilogies for bishes, howlers and cock-ups.

Dicentra spectabilis - described to me once, in Sri-Lanka, as the 'lady-in-boat-type-flower.' By the time you read this, any that have come through will already have been damaged by April frost.

At the beginning of this week, I thought spring flowers would be coming out ten to the dozen, by Easter. But that was before this maddening rump of frigid air crept back down from its lair at the top of Norway. So now we have gales promised, possible snow and the prospect of a nasty Easter, weatherwise, that is.

Several odd and startling things have happened, so I'll list them here.

1.) I was telephoned by someone moderately illustrious and asked if I'd be willing to take Julian Fellowes to lunch. I can't say more, but that's a name that simply has to be dropped. I can also give him a gentle bollocking for not providing subtitles for the 'cloth-eared' on the DVD of Gosford Park. I've watched it three times already, dammit, and still only picked up about half the dialogue.

2.) I went for a hobble in Bourne Woods with my elder son and the Photographer General where I heard, even without my hearing aids, several chiffchaffs singing. First this year. Also saw a willow tit (there are both marsh tits and willow tits in this wood and telling them apart is a bit tricky. One has a rugby forward's neck, the other skulks more.) The chiffies' 'dit-dat-di-dah-tit-tat-dit-tat- tew' reminded my that I didn't hear or see a single willow warbler in that wood last year whereas 20 years ago, they were more frequent there than chiffchaffs. We also heard a tawny owl calling in the middle of the afternoon. It's an omen, I tell you! An omen.

Primroses have come into bloom in the wood, pretty well on time, I'd say, but we only saw one, single wood anemone. I have more of those blooming in the garden.

3.) Only two of the seven trilliums that I paid telephone number prices for last spring have emerged, despite their having been planted in what I would have regarded as trillium heaven - ie, moist but well drained, neutral woodland soil which is rich in leafmould. I have no hope of ever seeing the others again. One of the two that have popped up only has two leaves, so I suppose you should really call it a billium or a duollium. I won't give up on them, but I am rather resentful. All the other woodlanders seem fine.

4.) I heard today that a pet shop lady was fined £1,000 and had to wear an electronic tag for three months for selling a goldfish to a 14 year-old boy. A criminal record, for that???!!! Read about it here. Apparently, the kid was a plant and had been employed by the Morality Police on the lookout for hardened criminals who make a habit of selling pets to minors.

What a nasty little sneak that 14 year-old must be! I'd like to box his ears for deceit but would probably be charged with child abuse and locked up with a burly safe robber for years. Anyway, wasn't using a minor as bait somewhat abusive? What kind of moral message does it give him? And also, what happened to the goldfish? I think we should be told.

We have SO got to get rid of the meddlesome, power-crazed, spying, prying, snooping, bludgeoning, moralising culture which seems to exist in the 'deep heart's core' of anyone in a position of authority. If that lady is a criminal, for selling a live fish to an adolescent boy, then I'm a banana.

5.) Cop this for an interesting bit of news. A tomato hybrid with a 60% increase in yield, and sweeter, too! It looks like an exciting break-through, but it will be sorely needed. If we are to feed ourselves properly in the future, yields over-all - but in particular, of cereals - are going to have to double. And the chances of being a meat eater, in the 2050s and beyond, seem to be diminishing for all sorts of reasons. Interesting. But I'm glad we're having roast beef for Easter Sunday and, hopefully, sausages and mash tomorrow.

Not this year! The woods last April.

I'm listening to Bach's Saint Matthew Passion. Well, it is Holy Week - not that I'm religious or anything. I just love the music.

This day in 1986 It was Easter Bank Holiday Monday. I showed the Princess of Wales's sister's mother-in-law round our garden and watched Cosi fan Tutti on television. We ate pork chops for supper.

For this week's film I was going to mention the remarkably good adaptation of J. M. Coetzee's novel Disgrace which we watched on Sunday.

But in yesterday's vile rain, instead of gardening, the PG and I sneaked off to see what we thought would be a 3D presentation of Avatar. It wasn't in 3D and I'd been warned that it wasn't a kinemaphile's thing at all. Quite the opposite. So I entered the theatre with a knowing sneer forming, but that was soon wiped away. Yes, the story is dreadfully thin, and yes, the acting is wooden and, OK, perhaps the characters are just a scriddick cardboardy and the music is dreary and relentless. And NO I will NEVER forgive James Cameron for the execrable Titanic. Never! But Avatar I really enjoyed. The scenery and CG stuff is absolutely spectacular. The life forms, both plant and animal were totally fascinating. (Whoops, I nearly said 'stunning!' tut tut!) My erudite son tells me they were designed by Wayne Barlow, an artist who specialises in science fictiony things. Well, good on ya, Wayne! 166minutes not exactly wasted. Plus we had a tasty curry on the way home.

Have a lovely Easter/Passover or whatever, y'all!


  1. Cloth-ears! I haven't heard that in a while but it was a family favourite but mainly used for people who couldn't be bothered to listen rather than the truly hard of hearing.

    You really shouldn't read the Daily Mail you know - it is not good for you. Clearly the woman should have been locked up just for looking such a misery. Odd about the goldfish though - we used to win goldfish in plastic bags at the fair. I don't think any of them made it home alive. If you really want to get into an apoplectic you should read the stuff about HMRC being able to intercept and read people's mail - I always thought that "interfering with Her Maj's mail' was actually a criminal offence. I can't understand why people aren't demonstrating in their hundreds of thousands on the streets over these huge intrusions into our civil liberties. Hmmm.. that last sentence doesn't look quite right does it - as if people are running around covered in hundreds and thousands which would be a 'trifle' silly!

    I read about that sweet tomato stuff too. A tomato (outside of Italy) with any taste at all would be a joy!

    Have a lovely Easter.

    Ha ha WV was duckars

  2. I really should read more slowly. On first pass I thought it was you who had been electronically tagged for goldfish flogging. It did make me wonder why you were selling goldfish in the first place so I thought I'd better re-read that particular part. I am delighted you will be able to enjoy your roast beef without the worry of a criminal record.

    Still, I'm with the Sock - it's probably best not to read the Daily Mail - it is designed to incense on all levels. I saw this rather wonderful 'Daily Mail Song' on YouTube this week, which I think says it all...

  3. For God's sake don't call the tomatoes "mutant hybrids"-they'll never get off the ground: look at the GM"Frankenstein food" fiasco.
    Whenever veggies tell me off for being a beef farmer I point out that the area under plough would have to double, with the inherent damage to flora and fauna.

  4. I wish someone would explain to me how you get moist but well drained soil - I just dont understand, seems to be contradiction to me

  5. Tis indeed topsy turvey weather - I've just had to light the greenhouse heater, and I didn't expect to be doing that again. Mind you as I love the smell of paraffin I don't really mind!

  6. You heard the chiffchaff! We used to joke there was only one in the UK that travelled energetically around, entertaining enthusiastic walkers. It was here last weekend. Very welcome for all that.
    Have a splendid Easter.

  7. A double name drop post - Julian Fellowes and (snuck in at the end) the P o W's sister's M-in-Law. That must mean that you win a special chocolate effigy of someone terribly important who is a great,great friend.
    A lovely post: five mini-grumbles, like petit-fours or tiny vol-au-vents. I think they should be christened Colborn's Chunterings and should become a regular feature.
    I also like the use of the word 'bishes': which I have not heard since school.
    Have a jolly Easter.

  8. Hurrah! the chiffchaffs have arrived. I shall clean my ears out and try to hear one over Easter.
    You have made my mind up for me - I won't bother buying Trilliums. If you can't manage to get the majority to come up, then mere horticultural mortals must weep into their leafmould.

  9. Thanks, everyone for your responses.

    Sock, Dawn - I actually heard about the goldfish incident on Radio 4 but checked it out on Mail online. I only read the Mail on Saturdays when it has one wonderful page, right at the back, between travel and motoring!

    James - after giving up choc for Lent, I'd appreciate a life-sized effigy of Henry Cooper, or perhaps, Hattie Jacques.

    Su - you LIKE the smell of paraffin? Hmm. I'm worried.

    Patientgardener - moist but poorly drained = smelly, sour soil that just doesn't feel right.
    Moist, well drained = holds water, unlike sand, but not for long enough for it to go foul.

    Everyone - the PG has asked me to point out that she thought AVATAR was pants. (Wimmin!!)

  10. Oh, I forgot you David!
    I'm in complete agreement - we've had more than enough food scares based on phantoms already. And thank you for being a beef farmer - British beef at its best has no equal, and I'm really looking forward to ours on Easter Sunday.

  11. I love the shot of Bourne Woods, I shall have to investigate (it's not too far from me).

    Happy Easter to you and the family,

    RO xx

  12. On a walk today in the Clwydian Hills we hear dour first chiff-chaff of the year.
    Happy Easter.

  13. Err? Is it just me, or is lady-in-a-boat a bit rude?

  14. GM - you live, still!!! Where've you been hiding?
    Yes, I always think extremely rude, but then everyone say's I've got a mind like a dung heap. It's in the eye of the beholder, I guess!