It is a good onomatopoeic word, it trips off the tongue with a pleasant fizz and, when used in culinary applications (lemon drizzle cake, a drizzle of finest olive oil etc) most appealing. However, the reality of days opf drizzle is not appealing. The sky is leaden and the rain does not give the sharp satisfaction that comes from thunderstorms. Slowly the ground becomes saturated and muddy and plants (grasses in particular) sag and nod under combined weight of water.
It is depressing and grumpificatious and wearying. I would much rather have a serious downpour than this devious and insiduous stuff. It is the sort of rain that one can shrug off at first. “Rain?” we cry “this isn’t rain this is just a light drizzle, not enough to stop us walking/weeding/climbing trees/playing football/entering the egg and spoon race/bird watching/shopping/whatever”. We are wrong, for after an hour or so we are completely soaked right down to our designer underwear and the only solution is a hot bath and a pair of freshly laundered cashmere socks.
Enough chuntering against those things over which we have no control – especially as, since I have written this my wish has come true and it has torrentially downpoured. Most of it down my neck while I was walking round a garden in Sussex.
Gardening: an interlude. I have a rather fabulous job going on at the moment. We have been fossicking about for a few months now – some of you may remember my writing about it here: the one with eight feet of rubble generously spread across a large part of the garden. It is now planting time: or at least part one of planting so I thought that you might like a list. I am trying to plant a strange imitation of a meadow but of Brobdingnagian (i) proportions covering all the soil visible in this picture (and a bit more)The grass will be Calmagrostis Karl Foerster and the other flowers will all be tall; to walk through it will, I hope be both interesting and lovely. We shall see.
- CENOLOPHIUM DENUDATUM x 60
- CEPHALARIA DIPSCOIDES x 50
- CIMICIFUGA SIMPLEX ATROPURPUREA x 60
- CRAMBE CORDIFOLIA x 50
- CYNARA CARDUNCULUS x 40
- DATISCA CANNABINA x 30
- DIGITALIS FERRUGINEA x 75
- ERYNGIUM EBURNEUM x 50
- KNIPHOFIA ‘NANCY’S RED’ x 50
- ANGELICA ARCHANGELICA x 50
- CALAMAGROSTIS KARL FOERSTER x 1500
- EPILOBIUM STAHL ROSE x 50
- PHLOMIS TUBEROSA AMAZONE x 100
- RUDBECKIA HERBSTSONNE x 40
- SALVIA ULIGNOSA x 25
- THALICTUM ROCHEBRUNEANUM x 60
- VERBENA HASTATA x 75
- PATRINIA SCABIOSIFOLIA x 50
- RUDBECKIA OCCIDENTALIS x 40
- SANGUISORBA OFFICINALIS x 30
- SANGUISORBA CDC282 x 30
- VALERIANA OFFICINALIS x 50
- VERBENA BONARIENSIS x 150
- VERNONIA CRINITA x 50
- VERONICASTRUM VIRG. ‘LAVENDELTURM’ x 50
Apart from that I have been trundling around the country. I went to Malvern to cheer noisily while my friend Mark Diacono made an awful hash of things with his performing vegetables. He dished out lots of rather divine peaches and figs in order to try to bribe the audience to stay but to no avail. He then bombarded them with Szechuan peppers and 50p bits as well but, alas and alack, they would not stay in their seats preferring the company of performing ferrets and the odd rabbit. (ii) I left too soon via the many, many food stalls in attempt to buy something delicious for lunch. It is a problem with such places that the reality is always much less appetising than the idea. There is a tendency to over egg the pudding: you know the sort of thing. Wensleydale with Ginger, Pork pies with Apricot brandy, Sausages with Gooseberry etc, etc. I know I sound crusty and tweedy but I do sometimes wish for a little country plainness rather than a load of other stuff bunged in that tends to spoil the taste.
We (Joe, Cleve and I) have been to Wisley to make a film about vegetable growing. Sort of: it was commissioned by the RHS and was filmed properly by my clever son Archie and his compadre Robin Reeder. It will be on general release in a couple of weeks: watch out for a cameo role by a well known (but extremely cheap) celebrity. We spent the next day rehearsing for Three Men LIVE which we are performing at RHS Harlow Carr next Friday and at Grand Designs Live on Saturday (iii)
As a slight diversion
Tony Curtis has died. He was very good in Some Like It Hot and I was completely and utterly smitten by Jamie Lee Curtis at one point in my life.
I nearly met Mr Curtis: a couple of years ago I was invited to go on the Alan Titchmarsh Show to talk about winter plants. This was a very interesting day out involving a very plush dressing room in the bowels of Television Centre and various other mild thrills. you can read all about it here if you really want. Anyway the other guests listed were The Saturdays (very young singing girls wearing short skirts: to them I was rightly invisible) and Tony Curtis. I got very excited by the possibility of meeting him (iv) even though he was, at that stage, looking a bit like a cross between Mickey Rourke and WH Auden. Imagine my disappointment when I realised that Mr Curtis was a prerecording rather than a live appearance. I think that the audience of ageing ladies was equally devastated as they were left with only me, Ann Widdecombe and Kelvin Mckenzie to keep them happy. Thank goodness the OAP’s eye candy that is the great AT was there: if he hadn’t been we would all have looked a bit silly.
I am listening to I’ll Still Be True by Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings.
The picture is of Apples.
This time last year I told you about the contents of my dustbin.
Two years ago I was upsetting cat lovers (it was all Chris Young’s fault – as are many things in this troubled world of ours.)
- As I am sure you know the journey to Brobdingnag was the second of Gulliver’s Travels. I rather preferred it to the annoying Lilliputians. I had to read the fourth part (the horse headed Houyhnhms) at school in order to write an essay on the subject so that rather spoilt it for me. As a side issue the other race in the final book were called Yahoos described by Swift as pretty nasty and deformed. I always wondered whether the founders of Yahoo! ever read Gulliver. Enough literary criticism, I think.
- This is a blatant slandery lie. His performance was gripping , funny and interesting. His Szechuan pepper demonstration was particularly good: so much so that I repeated it on a client of mine and succeeded is selling her a Forest Garden on the the strength of a bit of old pepper I found lurking in my pocket. First time I have convinced a client to eat a bit of my pocket fluff. The punters were stuck to their chairs throughout – literally, judging by the way Trent (his right hand American) was rushing about with a pot labelled “GLUE”.
- I am also in concert tout seul at Grand Designs Live on the Sunday.
- I say excited but what does one say to a screen legend after “Hullo, lovely to meet you. You were excellent in (fill in relevant film).” Then what? How was your journey? Where do you live? Do you prefer the red or black fruit gums? That Ed Milliband, eh? I do not often meet celluloid giants so have not had much chance to polish up my small talk.