There was a very minorly kerfuffle during my last blog when I mentioned my mild aversion to the word ‘Lottie’. I admit to a certain crustiness on the subject – not a patch on the King of Disgruntlement, Mr. N.Colborn, of course – but I also realise that language moves ever onwards. It is like a glacier: it moves slowly and steadily absorbing some things and spitting out others leaving behind a linguistic moraine. For example, among the argots long dead are such wonderful words as Hum Durgeon (an imaginary illness), Polishing the Dolphin (use your imagination), Absquatulate (to disappear), Twiddle Poop (Effeminate man), a Hayburner (Gas Guzzler), Rusty Guts (Surly Person), Honeyfuggle (to cheat), Dandyprat (Insignificant man), Sosse Brangle (Slattern), Lubbock (Stupid man or large flaccid penis), Exfluncticate (to utterly destroy).
My absolute favourite is,Vice Admiral of the Narrow Seas (a Drinker who urinates in another’s shoes).(i) It is worth hovering around in alleyways at closing time just to be able to use this one. Almost.
My daughter, who some of you may remember was last seen skinning a dead mole has now taken to boiling the flesh off large cattle bones in the kitchen. The smell seems to glue itself to the inside of the nostrils and stays there for hours and hours. It is all in name of art so that’s okay then.
At the beginning of the week I still felt as if my limbs are made of dough and am finding it quite difficult to get motivated so flung myself into a week of charging around just to get the juices flowing.
Monday: Placing sixteen large trees: when I say ‘placing’ I mean standing in a chill wind while stout fellows try to hold the trees upright while I tell them to move a bit to the left and then change my mind again. I think that they may also have been thinking murderous thoughts about said poncey garden designer but they kept them well hidden! I also went and interviewed some people for a forthcoming article for House and Garden.
Tuesday: To the bustling headquarters of the Horticultural Trades Association (ii) in a village called Theale. The purpose of this jaunt was to judge this years entrants for the APL Awards. I was a last minute rush job stand-in because the glamorous Andy Sturgeon was lolling on a beach somewhere (iii). We looked at lots of different landscaping projects: some good,some appalling and did a lot of deliberating. The Chairman was the excellent Mark Gregory and one of my fellow judges was the newly crowned Editor of The Garden magazine and teenage prodigy, Chris Young. There were biscuits but all the best ones had been eaten by the time they got to me: there were also mint imperials in little wrappers. I parked eccentrically, on the instructions of the Chairman, and as a result had a very convoluted exit strategy. This is fine except that I realised that the car park was under close circuit surveillance and it was possible that the entire office was watching my shambling manoeuvrings and feeble backwardsing and forwardsing. I am very bad at driving backwards: thank heaven I did not have a caravan attached.
I left early to go and give a lecture to the good folk of Long Buckby Garden Club who were all both friendly and appreciative, thank you. There are few things more solemn than the annual general meetings of village societies. Lots of reports and much proposing and seconding goes on as retired bank managers expound about the balance sheets and village worthies outline future programmes. It is all marvellously English. It is, however, something that is sadly fading away as it is very difficult to get people involved in such things. As a result most village so the societies all have an average age of about 65 and nobody younger than 45 (iii). I speak as someone who was once treasurer for my children’s primary school PTA. A scarring experience and not one I would volunteer for again: the problem with all committees is that everything takes too long and there is always at least one person who is so full of self importance that they drone on and on and on and on until you either fall asleep or are overcome with homicidal urges.
Wednesday: To London. On a train. Interesting things I observed during the day included:
One of my fellow passengers was in possession of a cushionless garden lounger and another (wearing a smart suit and an unfortunate magenta tie) was carrying three empty flan cases. The spongy ones.
A man was busking courageously in the rain by Queensway Station: he was playing an unaccompanied double bass so he definitely deserved a quid for both style and effort.
I was heading to London for important meetings: firstly at the RHS where I basked in the company of Hayley, Alex and Laura under the benign gaze of assorted past Presidents of the RHS. More meetings followed about some very exciting things about which I must, for the moment, remain uncharacteristically discreet. (v) I promise that, when the moment comes, there will be much trumpeting and many repetitive announcements.
In the meantime I noticed that there is a vast horse head at Marble Arch. I think it was made by Nic Fiddian-Green and it is pretty spectacular. The horse is facing another sculpture of what seems to be a multi coloured family group of jelly babies. The juxtaposition seems a trifle undignified.
Thursday: Couple of clients and an article to write. And suddenly remembered that I need to give a lecture tomorrow and had forgotten to do any preparation.
Friday: A tour of the West Midlands beginning in Bromsgrove to deliver a talk to assembled mildly hung over nurserymen for the Horticultural Trades Association (I know, twice in a week, somebody will talk). The audience was delightful but I would not put the Bromsgrove Hilton high on my list of romantic destinations. I then went to Wolverhampton and, by mistake, West Bromwich.
I am now feeling partly energised and partly knackered.
My last blogpost title has meant that some people have wandered in here looking for “plumper videos” I may be wrong but I don’t think that has much to do with film resolution. “Chubby Chaser” is one of my favourite expressions: I should perhaps do more for this particular minority group.
I am listening to the great Sam Cooke singing Everybody Loves To Cha-Cha-Cha. Which is an undoubted truth.
The picture is of the berries of Viburnum davidii.
(i) Some of these words come from a book called The Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue which is free from the iBooks store. It runs to 700 pages. Others are weird bits of 19th Century American slang.
(ii) This HTA should never be confused with this HTA. That would be unfortunate.
(iii) Actually he might not but I am sure that given the choice of either beach or a village just outside Reading he would have made his excuses and reached for another Martini.
(iv) I apologise if I have insulted any nubile 30 year olds who were in attendance. You were inconspicuous amongst the sensible knitwear.
(v) No I am not going to be lead presenter of Gardeners World.