Wednesday, 7 April 2010


My garden wall's gone mossy, so last year I decided to embellish it a bit with succulents.

Bother, blast, dammit and bum! No, not our local solicitors - they're called Snooze, Muddle, Diddle and Flaw. No, it's just an exclamation of frustration at advancing senility.

It's the second time this has happened. I had a head full of important and significant things to record but the moment my computer sparked up, everything in my brain went blank. So all I can do is list some casual observations. They may or may not be relevant or connected but there it is.

1. Some idiots want to fiddle about with the clocks again.
We are told that pushing our totally artificial British Summer Time noon TWO HOURS ahead of when the sun is actually at its midday zenith will 'be excellent for tourists' and will 'make huge energy savings' and will 'save scores of lives on the road' etc. And to add to the lunacy, they want to abandon Greenwich Meantime altogether and let winter darkness fall at lunch time. Hateful. Abhorrent. Not wanted.

How will it help tourism? Tell me someone, please. Pref
erably without telling me that more people will go Fell walking in March if it stays light an hour longer - because they won't.

Who wants it to be pitch dark at 7.30 in April but sunny at midnight in Aberdeen each June? It ain't natural.

2. I saw a swallow yesterday, the 6th April and a house martin today. Hurrah. One may not a summer make, but it doesn't half cheer a body up. We also heard and watched several skylarks, down on the fen. I can cycle, despite dysfunctional hip, but can't walk much still.

3. I've decided that the arguments proposed by all three of our main political parties are so utterly hopeless, weak and uninspiring, as well as being largely incredible, that I shall base my vote exclusively on the physical characteristics and dress sense of the main protagonists. I think that will improve the chances of the right people being elected.

And when I say dress sense, I mean the worse the clothes, the more respect I'd give them. Let me give you an example - though of a non-Brit. Take Angela (Wir haben mehr zu bieten) Merkel. Not exactly a snappy dresser and she has the air of a benign but no-nonsense, slightly exhausted but unflappable tea lady in a northern factory, so she'd get my vote in a trice. 'Ein klumpen oder zwei, meine Ente?

On the other hand, Monsieur Sarkozy is too like a well dressed mime artist to be credible - although his comedy hooter might have swayed me a little if he'd been taller - say about a third of General de Gaulle's height. Now there was a conk!! Definitely not one I'd vote for, though. He was so rude to Churchill. And Macmillan. And Heath. So was M. Pom-pom-pidou, come to that. We should never have lost the Hundred Years War!

So any candidate who wants my vote must be slightly scruffy - Hush Puppies and crushed suits are fine - and needs to look as though he or she has no ambition to milk the expenses system and someone who wouldn't gib at having to stand in the 'sardine & sweat' section of the train like the rest of us. And of course, anyone who says 'stunning' is automatically blackballed.

3. Better news on the Trillium front. Two more have appeared. One looks weak, but I think is going to survive; the other T. flexipes is almost recordable as a 'clump.'

I was so thrilled to see it that I yanked out a winter aconite growing nearby, wondering why it was there, among the treasures, rather than 'naturalising' in the rough grass. Aaaaaaagh!!! I'd forgotten that that was where I'd planted the rare, beautiful and mortgageworthy pale lemon-coloured form Eranthis 'Schwefelglanz.' Cretin! If I employed myself, I'd sack me. What? Oh, I do. Well, I'm fired.

4. Wendy (my greenhouse) is bulging at the seems. The tomatoes - I've raised enough to populate Thanet Earth - are desperate to be planted 'on the flat' but the 'flat' is full of over-wintering tender shrubs and if I move those, there'll be nowhere to keep the other little propagules.

I'm raising plants for my brother, as well as us, and there just ain't the space. I always say, when planning a new greenhouse, work out the size you think you'll need, and then toss the budget out of the window and double it - even if it means murdering the neighbours for some Lebensraum.

5. Desperate to relieve the pressure on Wendy, I went to gather a couple of plants that might serve as temporary house plants on our upstairs windowsill. I chose Zaluzianskya ovata. I'd rooted three cuttings in the autumn, from the plant growing in my raised bed outdoors and, although the parent is still living, despite the vile winter, the three lovely propagules are large, full of growth and coming into full bloom.

I plonked the plant on the windowsill and went off to watch some mind-developing and improving Television, ie, The Simpsons, and forgot all about it. We moved on, later, to watching DVDs of that incomparable American series The Wire. (Gosh, it's good! Really, really good!)

Later, when I nipped out of the telly room for a pee, I was olfactorily caressed by the sweetest and most seductive fragrance imaginable. Knowing that the PG seldom wears posh scent at home, and anyway, she'd been sitting beside me all evening, I could only deduce that a high class tart had broken in. But no such luck! That one small plant had fragranced the entire upper story of our house. Gorgeous! I haven't snapped a piccy, but will put one up tomorrow. I promise.

Oooh look - another auricula. This one's called 'Mojave'

I'm listening to Richard Strauss' Metamorphosen.

This day in 1991 I was discussing a new series with Adam Pasco at BBC Gardeners World Magazine, when it was still part of Redwood Publishing. The series became Colborn's Diary and, thanks to constant run of brilliant pictures by Tim Sandall, it ran for years. VAT had newly been raised to 17.5%

This week's film was Inglourious Basterds by Quentin Tarantino. As some of you know, I've never been a Tarantino fan. I was deeply impressed by, but greatly disliked Reservoir Dogs; loathed and despised Pulp Fiction, and was shocked by the London audience's reactions to the violence. (Seeing people getting their brains blown out, somehow, just doesn't strike me as being particularly funny.) I just haven't been able to tune in to that fevered thinking. But this spoofy WW2 film I absolutely loathed and detested. It was riddled with ludicrous improbabilities, saturated with gratuitous violence, had an improbable story and was just, well - an insult to anyone's intelligence.

I think I'll leave it there. I wonder if this hip is making me a little grouchy?? Bye bye for now!


  1. No swallows here yet, but plenty of snow to cover that one crocus that was about to bloom. We already seem to be of your mind, voting wise, here in Alaska. Our last mayor couldn't even be troubled to comb his hair for the opera. A full-on rooster tail at the Barber of Seville: just inspires confidence in a voter, I tell you. As for national office, we Americans are far too shallow to adopt your view. It's all about (relatively) good looks dah-ling.

    Christine in Alaska

  2. Day 2 of the election campaign and I am either very very bored, or fascinated by the prospect of preferring to eat my own arms rather than listen to any more radio and TV "analysis". Shame its so damn important.I like your thinking on candidate choice, though.

  3. I like your thinking, too. If it weren't for the fact that the only scruffy one of our local candidates here in NW Suffolk is a BNP taxi-driver I would apply your advice. The second scruffiest is a UKIP member. The other three are the usual suspects, none of whom I wish to vote for and all looking identically DavidCameron-alike.

    Do you have any further advice? I am getting desperate! The UKIP one is laying low, so I don't even know what his policies are. All I have had is a slim leaflet through the door.

    The conservative lot have been round three times, though. Does that prove how thorough they are?