With my wardrobe starting to look a bit shabby, if not downright holey, I threw a load of clothes out recently. Or rather put them in the textile recycling. This created the need to buy some replacement apparel and I was determined not to just buy in a load of high street clobber, but instead be a touch more select with my purchases.

Since watching Jaws at the cinema a few months back I have become, I admit, mildly obsessed with the sayings of Captain Quint and so a themed T-shirt bearing the quote “You get the head, the tail, the whole damn thing” was a compulsory, and compulsive purchase.

More reminiscent of a custom bike shop, than anything piscatorial, I’d love one of these Streatham Fishing Club Ts, but alas they are presently unavailable.

What are available and equally bespoke are Vintage Hiking Depot tops. With a nice feel and quality, there won’t be too many people this side of the pond sporting one.

They are available here.


Back somewhere around June I saw that Jaws was on at a local cinema. Whilst I’ve seen it many times I’ve never watched it on the big screen. When it was originally released I was too young to go, but remember the pangs of envy as older cousins filled us smaller kids in with all the scary details.

Discussing the re-release with a friend over a beer and we enthused about going. Then promptly did nothing about it. An opportunity missed.

Luckily a nearby arts centre shows some movies a while after they’ve done the rounds and so another chance to see it surfaced. This time we actually got organised enough to buy tickets. To be honest this was actually a superior option. Whilst it’s always better to watch a movie on a cinema screen rather than a TV one, not all cinema theatres are equal – sometimes even within the same multiplex.

And the reason that the arts centre was a much betteroption than the local multi-screen, is that it has a modern and marvellous little cinema tucked away in the top of the building. It only seats about 40 and manages to feel both huge and intimate at the same time.

The movie itself has been cleaned up to mark 100 years of Universal Studios, and although there’s still the odd murky scene, as a whole it really did look fresh.

That and watching it on a big screen did make it feel a bit like seeing it for the first time. Whether it was that, or watching it in an environment that allows one to truly concentrate on the film, I don’t know but I can honestly say, I’ve never enjoyed a viewing of that film so much. I even noticed a couple of touches that had never registered before, or perhaps were brought to life by the bigger screen

And yes, I even jumped at the scene where the head appears in the bottom of the boat then laughed at myself for doing so.

“Farewell and adieu to you fair, Spanish Ladies…..”

In The Deer Hunter Robert De Niro offers to get Meryl Streep a drink. She asks for a beer and he responds something along the lines of “Have a Rolling Rock. It’s the best there is”.

In the 1990s it was pretty much the only beer I drank. That’s not quite true, for instance I spent a lot of time in Yorkshire drinking real ales, but it does feel that way, certainly where bottled beer was concerned. The fact is I drank a lot of it. Not because it came in a great bottle – there were loads of beers in cool bottles at the time – but because I loved the fresh taste of it. It always hit the spot.

But then I moved to a place away from shops, and without a car lugging boxes of bottles home was not an option. Not an attractive one that is. It was enough to slog home with pots of paint and unwieldy garden supplies on public transport without having to heft even more stuff.

And somewhere during this time Rolling Rock stopped appearing in the shops.

So when, a few weeks back, I turned the isle in the supermarket to see a large stack of Rolling Rock four packs it was very much a blast from the past. One that I could practically taste. Not only that it was very cheap. I bought loads. Well not loads, but plenty.

Unpacking the groceries back home I was still very pleased with myself, until the OH said, “Why did you buy all this?”

“Because it’s great.”

“It’s not very strong.”


“You bought the lite version. Look it says Extra Pale.”

If I wasn’t stunned into silence I’d have pointed out that the logo always says Extra Pale. I still have some merchandise around somewhere that shows that. But sure enough it was just 2.8%. “Extra Pale? Beyond The Bloody Pale.” I thought.

Now don’t get me wrong I don’t really care about the alcohol content of beer, just as long as it tastes good. But the fact is that if you start beggaring around with the alcohol levels of an existing product you generally ruin it. Beck Vier being just one example of turning something nice into drek.

“It used to be stronger,” I whimpered as I tried to convince myself that it would still taste fine.

Could my memory be playing tricks on me?

I went to check.

When Rolling Rock came out here in the UK for a short while it had a paper label (such expertise – told you I drank it a lot), before moving to painted bottles and I had one pasted onto an old record box. Sure enough it used to be four and a half percent.

I felt betrayed. No, that’s too extreme. Shall we say I felt let down. Vey let down. Still as Iris DeMent sang, nothing good ever lasts.

Trying to keep an optimistic head on I attempted to look forward to drinking one as soon as it had chilled down.

And the result?

Well, as someone once said when faced with an awful beer – “Put it back in the horse!”

Back in April last year (was it really that long ago?), I explained that I have a small book in which I keep a note of any horticultural quotes that I come across which appeal to me.

For a little while I’ve been meaning to get something similar for the non-gardening quotes that end up on scraps of paper fluttering back and forth from desk to floor before disappearing forever.

Either the OH is binning them, or Little Boots is stashing them somewhere in order to build up a collection of amusing and unusual quotations, possibly with a career in after-dinner speaking in mind.

So today at last I bought a notebook, to record the quotes, miscellaneous references and various ideas I have for a couple of books I’d like to one day write.

The thing is it’s not a notebook. It’s a journal. It says so on the cover. That seems a bit grand for my tastes and so, despite its lovely, soft leather cover etc, I’m going to stick with notebook.

At the weekend I watched a few episodes of something called Art Rocks. Each one featured a potted biog of a performer together with them talking about their visual art and influences.

Moby was really interesting and draws micro-graffiti of little alien guys.

Iggy Pop was unintentionally hilarious, apparently talking knowledgeably about a local artist, but then only recognising the bloke on the street because he had his name painted down the side of his car. Later he did his own painting which he said was very much like the work of German impressionists. To my mind it was so awful the only impressionist it should have been likened to was Bobby Davro taking off Frank Spencer.

Funkadelic legend George Clinton was gloriously way out and produced some good abstracts that belied being colour blind from birth. He came out with the following that could be applied to gardening as much as art:

“It don’t bother me to clash colours. Way I look at it a box of crayons don’t clash. Only when you have two, three colours will they clash. Once you get over four colours, five colours they don’t clash no more.”

To paraphrase Hamlet:

“I have of late, but wherefore I know not, lost all my interest in gardening”.

It’s a bit bewildering to find what was a burning passion is now feels like a pile of cold cinders.

If anything is to blame it is the woeful experience I had with my RHS3 course at my local college. Having to put so much effort into it does seem to have had the effect of thoroughly burning out my interest in horticulture.

In an attempt to reignite that flame I have been looking at various talks and courses in the vicinity for 2011. A nearby horticultural society had some good speakers last year with Fergus Garrett being particularly inspirational, and Matthew Wilson similarly engaging. Looking at the RHS’s Growing for Success talks I found that Matthew was doing a brace of talks at the nearest venue to me (not that that is particularly near).

But here I found issue. These are billed as “a series of talks to inspire gardeners across the UK. The RHS subsidises these talks to encourage a diverse audience to listen to high profile speakers.”, which seeing as the talks are at 2pm & 4 pm is frankly ludicrous. The timing means that those who are attend will not be at all diverse, and the audience will consist solely of pensioners and the non-working Chelsea-tractor driving mummies that abound in that neck of the woods.

If the RHS is serious with it’s intent, then surely these talks should be at weekends and in the evenings, or if they insist on having them in the day time place them in cities at lunchtime, where working people could steal away to attend them in their lunch-hour.

Looks like I’ll have to find inspiration elsewhere.

This weekend I’ve torn around like an idiot and yet still achieved next to nothing. Consequently after three “days off” I do not feel rested. In fact, I feel wrecked. My back popped early on Sunday, and yes, this should have made me just sit down relax and do nothing. But it didn’t; not a bit of it. Instead I rushed round busying myself with a series of small, ineffectual chores, several of which I left unfinished and most of which were largely unnecessary.

It has had one effect – to leave me mentally frazzled and knackered.

I listened to a trail for this radio programme this morning and should have taken a lesson from it.

This week I am going to try to “stand and stare”.

W. H. Davies


What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare?—

No time to stand beneath the boughs,
And stare as long as sheep and cows:

No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass:

No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night:

No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance:

No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began?

A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare