The Ostrich Regarded The Pie With Interest

After all the hurly-burly of last week’s Blog I am feeling rather wan and exhausted. One of the nice things about WordPress is that I can reply individually to each comment although this becomes rather time consuming and exhausting when a brawl breaks out in the comments layer. Still, it seems impolite not to reply – especially to new people who have emerged from the shadows. Thank you all for your contributions.

I have seen various important people over the last week or so: firstly I had lunch with Sue Biggs the Director General of the RHS. A deux. In James Rudoni’s office at Wisley . I had a delightful time discussing all sorts of things about the RHS while eating slabs of rather weighty quiche and small round chocolate cakes. Also on offer were oranges cut into quarters: rather like those which used to be on offer at half-time during football matches. I don’t know if they are still standard fare or if today’s players prefer a bag of monster munch and some intimate massage: anyway, neither of us could work out an elegant way of eating them so they were left untouched.

I have also been to visit the offices of Somethin’ Else who make Gardeners Question Time. I like a fizzy office especially one with a pool table and table football. It reminds me of Thirtysomething which some of you might remember. It was a late Eighties television series about rather perfect couples with young children and exciting jobs: this was a time when we had a very small baby and were permanently exhausted.. The blokes worked in an advertising agency with a basketball net into which they potted (i) balls while having creative thoughts. I had a mad crush on Mel Harris who played a character called Hope. Unlike them this office also had a roof garden with fine (though cold) views and a selection of containers bearing the fading vestiges of sweetcorn and other things. Apparently the pumpkins were removed as it was considered a health and safety issue to have large vegetables teetering on ledges six storeys above the street.

The frost (ii) has, as I am sure you have noticed, spectacular. It was minus 10c here on Monday and the only way to sit at my desk was by wearing a velveteen Turkish skullcap, a large scarf, many layers of thermal underwear, two fleeces, a travel rug and a pair of luxuriantly cashmere socks. The alternative was to jog around the house stopping occasionally for a strenuous press-up or two or to go out. We went to the cinema at one point because we were so cold (iii) and at one point I went and sat in my car because it has heated seats and my buttocks needed thawing. The countryside and garden looked delicious and I, like many others, spent time tootling around taking photographs like this. My sympathies go out to Andrea Jones (photographer de luxe) who spent the night with some truckers on the M8. It was doubtlessly quite tough on the truckers as well.

I feel I must warn you about the January crop of garden magazines. House and Garden features the first instalment of the Top Twenty Garden Designers (about which I wrote here and Nigel Colborn went all ranty: which is always gratifying to the rest of us). It consists of a rather nice group picture and then a (I think) deeply unflattering individual picture of me looking as if I have just emerged from a chilly evening spent marinading in a deep pool of lemon juice. But that is foolish vanity and it is very lovely to be included: even though not everybody will approve of the choices. Part Two featuring the much sexier Sturgeon and West is next month. Also English Garden features my column, my garden and a piece I wrote on Tom Stuart Smith’s garden: such saturation is only for those with stronger constitutions.  To make things worse there is more to come as I have a piece in January Gardens Illustrated (iv) and a snippet in The Garden. Sorry.

To top it all I am on Eggheads this Friday at 6.00pm on BBC2. You might remember my writing about it in the summer, here to be exact. It is for Celebrity Eggheads (v) (using the word in an even looser fashion than they use it on I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here) and I was on the Home and Garden team with Toby Buckland, Chris Collins (the Blue Peter gardener), Aggie McKenzie (the unscary one of the two people who clean people’s houses) and Craig (off Big Brother).

Did we beat the Eggheads? You will have to watch and see. Set your video recorders or new fangled Sky Plus machines. 6pm Friday

The picture is of Viburnum opulus berries in the frost.

I am listening to Baby Please Don’t Go by Van Morrison.

Two years ago I was shamelessly trying to flog you copies of my book – which are still available, incidentally, if you send me a fiver.

  1. Is that the right word? Almost certainly not. Dropped? Slotted? Basketed? Popped? Dunked? (or is that only appropriate for the Slam Dunk?)
  2. Spectacular for us but probably nothing to write home about to those of you from Omsk, Finland or Alaska.
  3. The American with George Clooney. Quite good and particularly notable for an exceptionally beautiful Italian playing a small town prostitute. So beautiful was she that her presence in the brothel of some rural hill town in the middle of Italy seemed fanciful to say the least. If one took the British equivalent – for example, Melton Mowbray or Banff – I am pretty sure that the standards would not be quite so high. I may, of course, be wrong and welcome comments from those among the readers of this blog who regularly patronise rural cathouses.
  4. The more observant of you might have noticed (I did not) that my article in December’s GI about the charming naked folk at Abbey House included a slight misprint. The owner Barbara Pollard was called Su Pollard at one point (after the actress best known for playing the bespectacled chalet maid in Hi-De-Hi): fortunately it was taken well.
  5. For the benefit of the uninitiated (or foreign) Eggheads is a television quiz programme where a team of  people (could be a pub quiz team, work group, football club or, as in this case, a scratch team of the best brains around exhaustively selected from literally hundreds of applications) challenge the Eggheads. This is a group of serious social misfits who have dedicated their lives to absorbing trivial facts. Some might say that this is in compensation for their having few friends but I could not really comment.