I am moved by Lady Percy 's expression of love. CLICK HERE - see if you agree.
Otherwise my novels, short stories, verse, family, music, memories, vulgar interests, detestations,
responses, apologies. I hold posts to 300 words* having found less is better than more.
I re-comment on comments and re-re-re-comment on re-re-comments.
* One exception: short stories.

Saturday, 1 June 2013

You dig; the earth slips back

Time to eschew flights of fancy and tackle something serious. Dawkins (whom I've several times paid to watch) is being shellacked in this parish and I could defend him. But he doesn't need me, any more than Joe Louis did in his prime. How about gardening then? Nothing seriouser.

Gardening has always displeased me but, because VR watches Gardener's World, little bits have stuck like slug slime. I know, for instance, what "structure" means horticulturally.

Because we now employ a gardener I can complain to someone other than God. The gardener is a deacon at Hereford Baptist Church and I like the accidental symmetry.

The gardener is too grand to watch Gardener's World so I taxed him on "structure". He didn't know, but contrived to imply this was unimportant. His name is Brian.

Brian favours bare patches of earth - a negation of structure. "The plants will grow together," he said while planting. But I wanted the earth covered up there and then. When Brian rhapsodised about loam I simply walked away.

Tulips did well this year - something Brian and I were agreed on. But I didn't like Brian's attitude towards dead-heading. Too brisk, too heartless, tearing away tulip memories. Baptists should show tenderness. My grandpa was a Baptist minister. Had a club foot.

I've looked to employ korm (no idea how it's spelt), an impressive horti-speak fiddle-de-dee. I got it wrong when I carelessly identified a bulb as a korm. Brian apostrophised me and it hurt. I quoted Hilaire Belloc:

The dear old butler thought, but there,
I do not think I really care
For what the dear old butler thought.
In my opinion butlers ought
To know their place and not to play
The old retainer, day by day.

The world turns.


  1. I'm thinking to myself, "Why would Robbie ever have complained to a God in which he doesn't believe? Bizarre! But I won't mention it to him; Let the thought pass."

    Coming to your gardener, perhaps he doesn't see bare earth as the negation of structure, but as something which enhances the plant life. In a similar way, silences in music enhance the sound, and negative shapes in a painting can enhance the shapes and colours of the positive forms. On the other hand, your gardener may just like dirt!

  2. Tom: But you didn't let the thought pass, did you? I have taken an oath never to discuss supernaturals, trolls, fairies, obeah ladies, Indian men who climb poles, those who have unbeatable theories about slug destruction, meteorologists or anyone else who sells fantasy; a cordon sanitaire encircles you and the rest of my own circle of bloggers though this will not preclude me from making statements which add to the cloud of mystery through which you see me. There are obvious reasons and others less obvious for the omerta I have assumed. If you see contradictions feel free to point them out but always remind yourself of Walt Whitman; and please don't be hurt if I don't respond. I am of course open for discussion about the commonality between us which includes Phillips-headed screws, the theory and practise of heterodyning and posi-stubs I have known. Also Olivier Messiaen. Plenty to go at, you'll agree.

  3. Strange. I’d just put the phone down after a call from my friend Pete and then read your post. Pete had been telling me about an exotic plant, including its Latin name, which he has just put in his garden this afternoon.

    “it grows for seven years then flowers then dies” I was informed, then...

    “I put it up against a wall so that it would be out of the way”.

    I was left in a state of puzzlement, but felt that the whole ethos of gardening had probably been revealed to me without my knowledge or understanding.

    At Poolewe Gardens in Scotland the founder, at the turn of the last century, decided to have a garden but the site was windswept. He went and lifted Scots Pine saplings from islands on Loch Maree, planted them as a windbreak for his forthcoming garden then sat back and waited for twenty years until he could proceed further.

  4. Sir Hugh: The key phrase is "he went and lifted". If you convert this into "he had others lift" much of your confusion slips away. As they toiled he was probably playing chess and drinking whiskey. As the trees matured he possibly went for a world cruise and was regularly guilty of fornication. Anything to make the time pass pleasantly. This is gardening by remote control with the Mute button pressed. Something I aspire to but without the fornication.

    Secretly Pete wishes to bring you into the fold. He sees your urge to destroy yourself (a long term project since it must radiate up from your knees) as masochistic, akin to the Japanese suicide pilots in WW2 but without their fiery conclusions. He believes gardening will bring you tranquillity whereas it's more likely to bring auto-combustion - with you pleasingly aping those pilots clutching their one-way tickets. Reminding me of how these guys are portrayed in WW2 war movies starring John Wayne - always with fur round the edges of their canvas helmets. A tiny hint of luxury in their otherwise sparse plywood cockpits, knocked up about ten minutes before they are due to be filmed and always, but always over-large - room enough for them and three of their mates to have tea together.

    Ah-hah. The first time I have ever brought those odd matters to anyone's attention. But true, I assure you.

    In the meantime, while you seek desperately to re-create in your own mind a WW2 flying movie starring John Wayne (Flying Tigers is a good example; and it can be viewed in its entirety on YouTube) why not talk calmly to Pete, as if you were back in gainful employment and faced with the need to tell someone that their payments on a seven-year-old Commer van were now six months in arrears and that repossession looms. Tell Pete that his obsession can be treated and that suicide is far from being a cry for help and is often a simple matter of choosing appropriate ways and means.

    I suspect this comment is now quite large and may lead you to conclude that it is beyond your comprehension. If so read it again. Its sinuousness has an ultimate logic and the whole thing borrows from writers who have wrestled with stream-of-consciousness passages which I have now brought to a fine art. And before you protest that you cannot get on with SoC passages, let me remind you that you yourself do in fact engage in SoC thinking (Whisper it not in Gath - on dull uphill routes over shifting mini-scree) and therefore you must practise sympathy not unthinking rejection.

    There. You cannot claim I do not give you full value in length and it is only your opinion that I don't give the same value in coherence. Amen.

  5. Having read your response to Sir Hugh as closely as I have your post devoted to the gardening which displeases you, I begin to wonder whether you are about to undergo a damascene conversion. May be a new Robbie recovering from the effects of blinding light will emerge as a garden designer at Chelsea. Your first show garden to be noted by critics for it structure and the stream of consciousness winding through its undergrowth.