Bladderwrack with beetroot and shuttlecocks

Part Three: Even though I know very little about indoor plants even I know that this is extraordinary.

Basically, Amazon which, along with Starbucks, Microsoft and Boeing, is based in Seattle and has taken over a couple of downtown blocks for their offices. Some of these are conventional buildings (albeit arranged so that there are lots of public areas and enough light – the buildings in the path of the sun are lower) but in the middle are the spheres. What a place to work – very different, I imagine, to the Amazon warehouse on the outskirts of Milton Keynes: the temperature and humidity is perfect for both plants and people. The diversity and health of the plants is amazing – they are all hand watered so the gardeners know each plant intimately. Pest are controlled by a weekly release of predators. It has the biggest, healthiest green wall I have ever seen. Scattered throughout are desks and meeting areas amongst the plants.

And they pay their gardeners properly.

Every office should be like this – although for the sake of clarity I must say that these spheres are for meetings and a bit of peace. I am sure that, back in the other blocks, there are cluttered desks, stationery stores, executive toys and discarded sweet wrappers.

I am using my desk as a model here except that mine also has a cheque for £25.00 from the Premium Bonds (Go me!) and a plaster cast of a human skull that I bought in Clapham thirty years ago. It is there to remind me of rapidly approaching mortality in an effort to make me concentrate harder on deadlines and seizing the day. It seldom works.

Back to the hotel for a seven minute turnaround before heading off for the next gig. At this point I realise that I have not eaten anything since breakfast at 7:00 this morning. This is possibly while I feel exhausted. Fortunately on arrival at the Northwestern Horticultural Society I am confronted with one of those peculiarly American buffets which contains everything you could ever imagine in slightly strange combinations – seldom has a sight been more welcome. I crank out another talk to another delightful audience and return to the hotel to pack and sleep.

My last morning in Seattle involves some brisk walking – a good idea if one is going to be stuck on an aeroplane for nine hours. I find breakfast in another diner – not my best breakfast but pleasantly sizeable.Hotel breakfasts are invariably both overpriced and disgusting so it is jolly to go out and find things. The fog has moved in and with it the bone tingling chill of February – time to go home.

I like America and Americans. Seattle is a very laid back city, its main drawback is the homeless population. In many shop doorways (and in encampments on the embankments of freeways and under motorway bridges) you will find sleeping huddles many of them slumped in an opiate coma: this is the visible manifestation of OxyContin – a seriously evil drug.

Hope I come back here soon

I am listening to Sir Greendown by Janelle Monae