The Teapot Sadly Lacked the Requisite Stoutness

Maybe it is my age showing but I get extraordinary pleasure from the smallest things.

At the moment it is the lavatory cistern in the bathroom.There was a minor drama the other day when the cistern spontaneously split and water began to gush onto the floor. Fortunately we were around so got to it before any ceilings collapsed. The cistern was replaced and this one is remarkable because it flushes with less vigour when you pull the handle up, as opposed to pushing it down. This little thing continues to amuse me even now, four weeks after the installation. Other small things of interest include….
The presence of a single, very small rabbit in the garden. This is only temporarily amusing. When he becomes a large rabbit with a family then steps will have to be taken.

Boots. I have been terribly conservative in my choice of footwear for the past twenty odd years relying almost exclusively on the products of R.M.Williams for every occasion. Except formal evening wear or when synchronised swimming. However, I have recently invested in a pair of quite natty Clark’s Desert Boots. In black suede.

Also I have noticed that the quality of Spam comments on blogs has changed. I seem to be getting lots of flattering comments about how very brilliant my blog content is and how helpful they found my golden words. As if this was not warning enough on the bullshit meter, further examination shows that these kind people are representing a whole raft of different interests including tattooists and fanciers of Golden Retrievers. It is pleasingly surreal sometimes, for example: “Now you can carry on, feeling virtuous at having done your duty. As with a car, minibus insurance is required by law. Many a times, what happens is that there are many people who keep visiting Essex more often.” From a mini-cab company. Or “Your post is very informative, I think its getting to be a nice one after a few days.” from a conservatory company in Stoke-on-Trent. I may have covered this before here but what is the point of Spam? Does anybody, anywhere ever fall for such things? Is anybody likely to say “My goodness, a random and barely sensible comment on that blog has ensured that I immediately bought food for my Golden Retriever”.

Mind you……


Apart from these little entertainments life has been quite busy. Chelsea has been and gone leaving in its wake a bit of disgruntlement among designers as well as a selection of very nipplish canapés. Various eminent and very talented designers are unhappy . This could be seen as railing against the injustices of a flawed system or it could be the act of throwing a tantrum. I think that the former argument worked until it degenerated into saying things like “their solar panels were ugly” which then dragged it all down to “and anyway you stink and your mother is pooey” level. It is really a matter of, you know the rules, you know how it works, if you don’t want to play this game, stay away. The judging system is never going to be perfect and, in their defence, the RHS is much better than it used to be at changing things. Albeit still quite slowly. The good thing about all this is that I am pretty sure that the process will be looked at again. And again. And again.

I always thought that the Australians would win Best in Show because their garden is warm and appealing. The Best in Show award is a much more visceral reaction rather than something based purely on mathematics. And so it should be. The choice is usually made (always at Chelsea) between gardens that have won unanimous Gold medals which means that every judge has voted Gold with no hesitations or waverings. There is then a straightforward vote. It could all be done on crunched numbers and assessors’ calculations but that would be a bit inhuman and cold in my opinion and although design can be serious,should be serious, there should also be room for human emotion and a bit of subjectivity. The other truth is that the vast majority of the world really does not give a fig: they look at gardens and decide for themselves whether they like them or not, the medals are really just for the sponsors and those of us who are directly, or indirectly, affected either as contributors, judges, commentators or friends.

I had a jolly time fundraising for the RHS, which involved very early mornings in the unseasonal cold. On Wednesday I took some people round the show at about 6AM and we were so frozen that we were reduced to taking warmed plates from the breakfast queue and putting them inside our jackets. I also did a small bit of television tarting about, notably chasing the Queen across the showground.I have done this for the past few years and it seems to have become my niche, it is probably because I am the only one with a half-decent suit. Had I not been doing the BBC thing then I had been assigned the Countess of Wessex. Each Council member gets a Royal to look after during the Royal walkabout, unsurprisingly the less reliable Council members (ie JA-S) are not trusted with much more than the younger sons and various cousins. Julian Fellowes’ (him of the Downton Abbey fame) wife is some sort of Lady-of-the-Bedchamber to Princess Michael of Kent and arrived wearing a rather alarming white turban – alarming because it had a hole in the top through with her hair protruded. It looked a bit like a puffed up Polo mint.

What else? I gave a speech at the Harcourt Arboretum to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of their being taken over by the Oxford Botanic Gardens. It all took place in a tent in the actual arboretum where we were surrounded by very noisy Peacocks and some fabulous Rhododendrons. And the weather was sunny and delightful. There was an auction which raised about £14,500 for the arboretum so generally a jolly satisfactory evening.

That is probably enough for one day, I am off to the NEC today week to jolly around in a shed at Gardeners World Live and then straight off to Moscow on Monday morning for the Moscow Flower Show, about which more anon.

I am listening to Redondo Beach by Patti Smith and the picture is of Rosa moyesii Geranium.