Monthly Archives: March 2011
When I am out with the FYO and about to cross a road I do what was once known as ‘kerb drill’ and subsequent to that, the ‘green cross code’. He does all the work, looking up and down the street and listening and watching, before telling me it’s safe to cross. ‘Remember to watch for bicycles,’ I said today. ‘Sometimes you can’t hear them, they don’t make much noise.’ Like Prius cars, I suppose, but I neglected to mention that. ‘So when you cross the road,’ I added, ‘You must watch for bicycles as well as cars and lorries and things.’ ‘And dog poo,’ he said. Though I initially agreed with him I was careful to put this additional hazard into perspective because dog poo, thankfully, doesn’t travel at thirty miles per hour and is far less likely to knock you down.
I have been away, building a garden. Well, not away, exactly. It just felt like it. The Royal Caledonian Horticultural Society (reduced to less of a mouthful as RCHS) holds its annual flower show at the Edinburgh Botanic Gardens in March each year and some time ago I found myself co-opted into contributing to this event by constructing a palette garden. What, you may ask, is a palette garden? I have been involved with the construction industry long enough to know what a palette is, but a palette garden? A garden that fits on a palette? A palette that is lifted by a fork-lift truck? No, not exactly. It just happens to be one-metre square, the size of a palette.
Anyway, it won 2nd prize. I was aided and abetted by Tracy, without whom (as they say) the garden might not have been built… constructed… finished… might well not have won second prize.
‘Penguins are at the zoo,’ the FYO said. ‘It’s where they come from.’ ‘They have some there,’ I told him, ‘but they come from a place at the bottom of the world where there is lots of ice and snow. It’s called the South Pole.’ (I thought Antarctica was a bit of a mouthful). ‘And polar bears.’ ‘Polar bears are at the North Pole. That’s at the top of the world. They have polar bears in other places too, countries called Canada and Greenland.’ ‘And in the zoo.’ ‘There’s a place called Iceland that has a lot of ice and snow, but I don’t think they have polar bears there.’ ‘I know. My other Granny has been there.’ ‘I didn’t know that. Did she go on a ship?’ ‘No, she went in her car with me. We bought a lot of food.’
I intended to buy Ian McEwan’s latest novel, Solar, but instead I bought the book on CD, read by Roger Allam (who I haven’t heard of before but who read the book faultlessly).
I do this sometimes. I have close relatives in Bristol and the tedious drive (a round trip of almost 800 miles that the car and my subconscious mind seem to manage on their own. Almost…) is made more bearable by having a novel to listen to during the journey. Particularly in that nasty bit of the M6 between Manchester and Birmingham.
The CD set is unabridged and the reading is 11½ hours long, therefore lasting for most of the journey there and back. Puzzlingly, the book has had some unfavourable reviews. Could that be because the author addresses climate change in a thoroughly researched manner that disturbs his readers? My humble (perhaps not so humble) opinion is that this novel will become a classic.
Some of you know that I write. But in McEwen I marvel, I can’t even get close. I am gobsmacked (a technical term I learned years ago) that McEwen, a graduate in English Literature, can have such a grasp of physics to have written such a novel. But don’t let the word physics put you off. Solar is GOOD STUFF, as a university friend of mine used to say. It is serious and amusing, and I wish I could write like that. I loved his novel Atonement, and Joe Wright’s film of it (perhaps, one day, if I have the guts to do it, I shall tell you why).
It’s my own fault, I should have bought my spinach from Whitmuir, I just happened to be in Sainsburys when I thought of what to cook. Serves me right. It would probably be cheaper at Whitmuir, too.
I find this offensive, because the kind of advertising morons who write this stuff are assuming that we too are morons, and that we fall for junk like this. Note that I bought this bag of spinach because I wanted spinach, not because it was bigger and better. Honest. And you need a big bag of spinach, because when it is steamed it reduces to about 1/100 the amount you started with.
I have no doubt that if people are indeed capable of turning in their graves then John Sainsbury will be doing it too.
BUT, are we (we advertising guys) bovvered? Do we look bovvered?
And the spinach…? It’s not that I want muscles like Popeye, it’s just that bed of it goes well under sea bass.
Not the best picture I’ve ever taken of a rainbow. The left hand corner of it (the bit that doesn’t show up well… or at all) nose-dived into the vegetable patch at the bottom of my garden. I know for a fact that there is no pot of gold there because that bit of garden has been heavily rotavated… though not recently, so I wonder if it’s worth having a wee peek under the clear polythene…? Even if there is no gold, I may find Dorothy Gale from Kansas.
I seem to be muddling my myths.
On Saturday I spent a couple of hours at Whitmuir Organics (see also the link on the right) learning how to graft. I’m sure you know already (because I did) that grafting is a way of propagating shrubs and trees by taking a ‘twig’ of one variety and splicing it on to the rooted stem of another. The rooted stem is a rootstock selected for its special properties, in particular its overall height. For example, if you plant a seed from a variety of apple you particularly like, then one day (if you are lucky, in so many ways), you will be able to pick your favourite apple from the tree that grows from the seed. The problem is that the tree may be forty feet (12m) tall and you will probably need help from your local fire service (ladders rather than hoses) when you come to pick your fruit. By grafting a twig (scion) from the tree that produces your favourite apple on to a rootstock with a shorter maximum growth height, you will be able to pick your apples without using a turntable ladder.
Anyway, it was good fun and we learned a lot. The knives were sharp and nobody cut themselves, which has to be a good thing.
Here endeth, etc.
(Oh – what I meant to mention, but got carried away, is that we were taught by Andrew Lear, a man who really knows his stuff).
I was reminded of it today. The motorcycle component I received in the post from India didn’t come in a padded bag or bubble wrap, it came in cotton packaging and it was STITCHED, not glued.
I’m not saying that’s what we should do (who has time to sit down and stitch up a parcel? Yes, I know, child labour, probably – but that’s another story. If they weren’t stitching-up this parcel they would probably be on the streets).
But it did make me think.