A Palaver In The Pastry Kitchen

It is a well exercised fact that, if you want to get a lot of blog comments, then you should either write about Cats or the Royal Horticultural Society.

In the last couple of weeks there has been a fair bit of stuff about the latter following on from the Show Garden Judging Review Forum last Monday. I know a fair bit about this as it is the first committee I have sat on since I joined the RHS Council last June. In fact, top be perfectly accurate it is the first committee I have ever sat on – if you exclude the Contemporary Arts Society when I was at school. But as that was just two of us sitting around smoking Gold Leaf and fantasising wildly about how we could get David Bowie to come and give a private concert so it is not really the same.

The idea was to look at the Judging Process (with particular emphasis on Chelsea Show Gardens) and suggest a few variations and changes. Nothing major as the process is pretty damn effective most of the time. People get very excited by this sort of thing: actually, to be perfectly accurate, a few people get agitated while the vast majority of both the general population and the membership of the RHS glance over briefly and then resume normal life. Most gardeners are more interested in plants and pests than they are in the intricacies of show garden judging but those of us who are interested are very vocal and opinionated.

This is a good thing.

The next step was to hold a Forum where the exhibitors could have their say: they, after all, are the people who do all the work so the RHS should be listening as much as possible. Anyway, read more over at ThinkinGardens where Victoria Summerley has written two good pieces and various people have commented. One of the things that strikes me is that there is a lot of “they should do this” and “they should do that”. Who do we think “they” are? The RHS is a charity and their management and running is divided very clearly into two parts: the executive (those who are professional and are paid salaries to run the joint) and the voluntary. The seventeen members of council are volunteers: as are the show garden and plant judges, plant committee members, guides and volunteer gardeners. If you feel strongly that something should be done, then why not volunteer? there is nothing stopping you if you are a member. If you want change (and I think that the vast majority do) then get stuck in! It is quite fun being a pillar of the establishment.

As I am becoming so lousy at writing regular blogs we have now moved on from the above forum and have had another, very long, meeting to sort things through. Results to follow in March but the process will always be under review. The truth of the matter is that no judging system will ever make everybody happy all of the time. If you win a Gold medal then it is wonderful. If you don’t then the whole thing stinks and the judges are nothing more than corrupt lackeys of a moribund organisation.

Amongst other committee news: I had my first Gardens committee meeting at Wisley and have also sat on the Hampton Court Gardens selection committee and the Digital Strategy Review. It is quite time consuming this Council business: but only because a lot of things are interesting and worth spending time upon. The best lunch was at Hampton Court selection although the Wisley sandwiches were perfectly acceptable – especially combined with a slice of cake in the company of two of my very favourite women: Ms A.Sock and Ms AM Powell.

As an antidote to all that sitting in overheated rooms I have a collection of diggers in my life. Persistent readers of this blog will perhaps remember that I come over all Tonka Toy when I have large machines to play with. I am not really allowed to drive the things (i) but my role is to jump up and down excitedly shouting “Over there, Over there” or “Deeper, Bigger,Wider” (ii) We have dug a canyon on one job and are just starting on a rather fine pond on another. I also have electricians running around talking about wattages and cable loadings, most of the time I have absolutely no idea what they are going on about.

Most exciting unsolicited press release of the week regarded the appointment of a new Managing Director for some printing company. His name is Lladislav Sloup.

What else? Not much the “It” about which various people have written is progressingwell and becoming more gorgeous by the minute. I could do with some money if anybody has any to spare. I have been to Devon and Lancashire to talk to clients and everything else just keeps on rolling. I think the best thing would be to post this rather than twiddling my thumbs waiting for something remarkable to happen about which I could blog.

I must also confess to very unChristian feelings towards Robert Peston. I am sure he is terribly nice and kind to animals but his vocal arrhythmia gives me the pip.

The picture is of a pure white Crocus.

I am listening to Last Train To Clarksville by the Monkees in memory of Davy Jones.(iii)

(i) In the glorious days before the invention of the hi-viz vest I did drive diggers. I had a fine old time but was occasionally a little haphazard. I rolled one down a hill (with me in it). Knocked one of my colleagues into a water filled trench and punctured a main drain (with slightly unsavoury consequences).

(ii) This latter exhortation makes me sound a bit like a 1970s porn star (or what I would imagine a 1970s porn star might shout) so I try not to do it on the out breath or while suggestively licking my upper lip. Digger drivers tend to look unsympathetically on such behaviour.

(iii) Whose wife, I notice, was ten years younger than his elder daughter.