October 2009


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Being a parent often means the curtailment, or even cessation, of many activities. Some of these are unavoidable, for instance spontaneous afternoons in the pub, others, like going anywhere without milky sick somewhere on your clothing, are perhaps not but seem so.

One that I’ve found has gone is browsing round shops. I never seem to have time, and the thought of needlessly taking Little Boots into shops full of damageable goods makes me wince.

So yesterday, being alone for a spell, I actually did a bit of browsing. Not much that much, because it was a shitty, drizzly day and I wanted to get home, but enough to make me happy. Especially when I found this print by Stanley Spencer entitled The Greenhouse.

Which reminds me, I’ve things to do in mine.

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Last Saturday was one of those lovely, slow, cosy days that was so good that you still feel the warmth from it throughout the week.

One of those days when much seemed right with the world.

It began with Little Boots and I loitering around the homestead, both of us lacking the energy, or interest, to get galvanised and do anything. In truth I was unable to do much because of wrecked rib-muscles due to five weeks of coughing.

I spent most of the day on the sofa. After reading the paper, the post had arrived, including my RHS certificate (which I rather smugly smiled at), along with a number of books I’d ordered for the next course module.

Shortstuff was having one of those days that small children sometimes do where, after a long week of school, all they want to do is noodle fairly quietly about the house with their favourite toys.

We ventured out briefly to our local nursery to pick up some compost and seeds. Little Boots demonstrated a keenness to support local business, by insisting (as usual) that we buy some flowers. At first I said no, but can never hold out for long. I mean, what can you say when your child is hell-bent on acquiring plants? We bought a small potted chrysanth with claret flowers. But then the munchkin spotted the bulbs.

Oh, the bulbs.

After much too-ing, and fro-ing over selection, the junior gardener chose snowdrops. I suspect this was for two reasons. They were the first ever flower LB was able to identify, and secondly because they had that fascination that small things do for small children. I think it’s a scale thing. Grinning I suppressed the urge to explain that they don’t do as well when planted as bulbs, largely because, the previous choice had been a huge bag of ghastly daffs.

We also bought some logs and returned home to make a fire and cooch up on the sofa and watch Jurassic Park.

It was pretty idyllic.

But not quite idyllic enough for Little Boots tho’, who decided it was more interesting to sort a pile of conkers into matched pairs, and then sellotape them together, for reasons that were explained to me but I still can’t grasp.

A week later and, with Little Boots away on half-term hols, the warmth of that golden day is keeping the chills of separation away.

appleuse Right, so today I’m going to post something cheery rather than me moaning on about stuff.

This is part of a painting I have. It is, I think, acrylic on hardboard. It’s by a J Parker and although I sort of inherited the thing I don’t know any more than that.  It’d be great to know who J Parker, the artist,was.

But all that I really know about it is that I love it.

This is however a love that feels bit perverse, because no-one I’ve shown it to likes the painting at all.

More fool them.

Unbelievably Mucking Fuppets the builders cum landscapers cum bodging f**kwits, who have been block-paving a neighbours’ drive were back yesterday to do some more work on the thing.

For the record the drive is about 20ft long and they started on 2nd September. They are still working on the primary installation and not “snagging” and they are not working for really picky people since some of the edging brickwork is what I would describe as “iffy” and a brickie friend described as “f**king crap” and “the work of a c**t”.

One of the other neighbours said they should be shot (he’s a bit of a nazi).

Me?, I reckon they will get a contract to build something for the 2012 Olympic Village.

Autumn stoneMany years ago an accident put me in hospital at the beginning of February. When I was discharged a month later, the grey, wintery world had burst into life. My eyes had never seen trees so green, and I suspect never will again. At least I hope not. Not under similar circumstances anyway.

At the moment I’m experiencing the same thing in reverse. When I fell ill we were having a warm, dry sunny mid-September and although lots of plants were looking far from their best, there was still a warm decadent fizz about many of them. Having been pretty much housebound for five weeks I’ve emerged to find everything dying. And not in a fine, crisp, autumnal blaze either, but rather a wet, mouldering, cold slump of leaf-fall.

The contrast between this miserable decline and my own, albeit slow, return to vitality is not lost on me, but the former is not helping the latter.

There is so much to do in the garden and down the allotment that for the first time ever I am considering paid help. Certainly for the latter. The last thing I need at the moment is the Site Stasi giving me grief over the state of my plot.

For the first time in my life I feel old. I know it will pass, just as I know what I really need to do is get outside and connect with plants and gardening and it will reinvigorate me, as it always does when I’m feeling down. But at the moment my slow recovery and autumn’s rapid decline are stopping that happening.

Nevertheless I am not sad.

The man sat opposite on this train is wearing wrap-round shades even though he is indside and outside it’s a gloomy October day. He is also wearing a baseball cap back to front even though he is 55 if he is a day. He seems to think he’s a biker, but he’s on a slow train, not a Harley. Wanker.

Now HE is bloody sad.

Today is a dark day.

I was lying in bed this morning, contemplating a whole month having gone down the toilet and trying to catch up on my sleep deficit, when this was rendered impossible. Mucking Fuppets, the neighbours’ landscapers, are back at work on the 20ft drive that they started 2nd September. I think the record is theirs.

I need something exciting to happen. Sadly its not going to be the RHS Olympic completion as I didn’t make the cut. It’s no good trying to cheer myself with the thought that my design was clearly too complex, since one of the finalists has done a design based on the 2012 logo. And it’s not one of the kids either. Rubbish.

So instead I got stuck into my RHS notes and some medium to heavy coughing.

Over the last couple of months I’ve made good headway into Module A, and was a bit disappointed to learn this week that, following the new tutor’s arrival, we were now doing Module D. Of course the work on Mod A will be of benefit in the long run, but we have lost 3 weeks and with Christmas in the way, this is going to be bloody tight for an exam on 10th February.

To keep with, and enhance, the general theme of despondency I got a call from college mid-afternoon, advising the we would have a new tutor on Monday. Quite why the old new tutor only lasted a week is unclear. But we have now lost 4 weeks and I don’t know what module we will be doing this term.

I think the phrase I’m looking for is “Bloody Marvellous!”

A trip in car for the first time in over a fortnight almost ended with disaster when “Here Comes The Summer” by The Undertones came on. Since it was, at the time, raining and we’ve had such a poor summer I started laughing. Laughter that turned into a coughing fit. Which took hold so enthusiastically that I nearly hit the kerb and crashed.

That night college recommenced, three weeks late. That was a bit of a crash too. Unsurprisingly there was loads of griping. Lots of it about the college admin, which has been woeful at best and seemingly mendacious at worst. There was also plenty about the level of tutorage, as most of the class either failed, or only just scraped through after intense last minute cramming.

One person did get a good pass (ahem!).

It was not good. Many had clearly had a bellyful and one or two voiced the intention of walking.

There was a lot of chat over the 2 hour session, in fact there was little else, but at the end of it I think most people were won over. With chests cleared, it was plain to see that the new tutor really knew her stuff and people who had expressed the desire to leave the course at ten to seven, were by nine, talking about the practicalities of re-sits.

It looks like we have an interesting term ahead, but I can’t say I’m relishing the thought. It could well be a joyride and not in the good sense of the word.

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