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“Huzzah” Cheered the Catatonic Courtesan. Quietly.


I know that I have, again, been horribly neglectful of this blog. Nearly two months since my last confession. Apologies to those that noticed. In the intervening time I have been doing various things that have now lost their immediacy and probably do not deserve your full attention. I have also, because it is August been pondering stuff – not in a terribly deep and world changing way, just because I have to fill my brain with something while staring out of windows or waiting at traffic lights.

Here is a short list in no particular order-

The most important is that there is a new episode on intoGardens out for your amusement and delectation. You have never heard of intoGardens? my you are so out of the loop. Go, now and get an iPad and download it immediately.  You will find wildflowers, bees, food, weeds, ponds as well as Monty Don reading from his book and sundry other things to make you oscillate with pleasure. There are also new magic parcels on the iPhone App. What? surely you have not missed that as well? My goodness you are about as hip as the Venerable Bede. It is now also available for Android phones as well. For all the details go here, now.

Why do I often end up sitting next to very large men on trains who take up more than their allocated space? They somehow overflow the seat with wavelets of excess which make me feel squeezed and small. Is it acceptable to get up and sit in another seat or is that a terrible faux-pas likely to unleash deep anxiety ?

Matching ties and hankies (or ‘Pocket Squares’ as I believe they are called in the trade). I think this is probably okay if the tie pattern is relatively understated. Polka dots perhaps. It is not acceptable if the tie is a kaleidoscope of mauve and green. Many years ago I had a blue and white Paisley pattern shirt with matching tie (for formal occasions) and cravat (for casual engagements). The cravat was fastened with a gold ring. I think my mother bought the combination in Guildford. I looked like a miniature member of Manfred Mann.

Transparent white gauzy trousers which allow people following you up the escalator to know not just the colour of your underwear but the exact seams on your gusset.

Bricks – this may seem like a dreary subject to many of you but I have long been interested in bricks. The names, for a start, are interesting Stafford Blue, Common Flettons, London Mixed Stocks, London Yellow Stocks, Waterstruck bricks, wirecut extruded, cherries etc. Some people take this much farther than a random thought and there are places on the internet populated by people obsessed with bricks. Interestingly somebody once told me that there are two products in particular that are uneconomic to transport very long distances. One was bricks – as they are so heavy that you cannot get enough on a lorry – and the other was lavatory paper because it is so bulky.

I wonder who discovered cheese. Obviously it was due to some sort of accident when the milk was left unattended. Like Alfred and the cakes.

Phonecards – I was casually gazing at a telephone box the other day while waiting for a tractor to cross the junction and remembered the Phonecard. A green plastic card that supplanted the search for 10p bits that preceded making a telephone call. You could buy them in newsagents for a pound and I believe that they became valuable currency in prisons (up there with tobacco, stained copies of Razzle and Ketamine). They probably don’t exist any more.

The summer has been rather lovely: warm and peaceful. My parents-in-law have a venerable swimming pool that was installed during the long hot summer of 1976 (a summer I spent not revising for my A Levels as it was too nice and I preferred to lie under trees snogging and being pretentious). We are fortunate that we live very close so I have swum almost every day this summer. I am not a very good swimmer and get exhausted quite quickly – I would be rubbish at rescuing struggling damsels and floundering pets – but made the effort and it has to be the most boring form of exercise ever invented. There is nothing to look at and nothing to divert the mind. Dull, dull, dull. At least if you are bicycling or running you can watch the world go by or listen to the radio. I do about five lengths before I give up. I also try and swim naked as often as is decent, no idea why but it adds a frisson.
Maybe I am a closet naturist: I will have to discuss it with my friend Cleve West who often goes on naturist awayaday weekends.

“Miss Stevens , I must say you’re a girl in a million”
“That’s a routine compliment but I’ll accept it.”
Cary Grant to Grace Kelly in To Catch a Thief. And her reply. I worry sometimes that I spend too much of my life thinking about Grace Kelly.

The RHS more or less closes down during August and there are no committee meetings or anything. Oddly, I have rather missed it and was pleased to be going to Vincent Square to select the show gardens for next year’s Chelsea.

I have a new Olloclip. This is a fiendishly clever little lens that goes on an iPhone and means that you can take macro pictures of whatsoever you might wish. Like the rather vulgar picture above of a pouting dahlia and the other one a bit further up of an Eschscholzia californica (which, incidentally, has to about the most difficult plant name on the planet to spell).

I have had some quite good lunches.

So the Duchess of Cambridge has given birth, how marvellous for all concerned. My only worry is the naming of said baby: personally I have been advocating Prawn as the perfect choice because, and I am sure this does not really require explanation but people have been giving me slightly blank looks when I hazard this opinion, he will then become King Prawn. Alternatives include Crimson. Kong, Burger and Speech.

So that is probably enough random drivellings for one day. I am listening to Gillian Welch singing By The Mark. The picture is a bee sitting on a Succisella.

13 Comments Post a comment
  1. Am very excited about that lens for the iphone. How did I now know about it? Also excited about the brick names. Very beautiful. So all in all this has been helpful. Thank you.

    September 27, 2013
    • We are here to serve.

      September 30, 2013
  2. janerowena #

    Oh good, you’re not dead.

    I too like bricks. I am horribly picky about their colour and have been the despair of every builder I have ever met. I once lived near a man who worked for a very large brick company and he opened my eyes to the world of bricks. I once owned a house in kent whose bricks had been made at the end of the garden, and they were stunning, all bluey pinky greys. Son’s girlfriend favours those skirts, fortunately over some kind of shorts.

    September 24, 2013
    • I am equally glad of my continued existence.
      If not more so…

      September 30, 2013
  3. James – I think you are a naturist at heart (skipping through gardens naked/tree hugging naked etc etc)and that said can I ask you to avoid any kind of jewelry accessorizing….Totally agree on the boredom of swimming but suggest you unleash some piranhas into the pool next year to spice it up a bit.
    Hope all well,

    September 18, 2013
    • I did enjoy my evening with Alitex, thank you.
      I think piranhas might be going a step too far: I have had my feet nibbled by small fish – not the same thing but almost unbearably ticklish.

      September 30, 2013
  4. brotchie #

    A fine collection of ponders.

    Have been mulling on license plates myself. Because some now have four letters in a row, but never a ‘four-letter word’. Is there a committee ? One highly paid consultant with an extraordinary grasp of invective? Is this what the ‘civil service’ does?

    September 12, 2013
    • I think that there is a loud siren that sounds whenever something inappropriate happens in the factory where numberplates are assembled.
      Some catastrophic collision of random letters.

      September 30, 2013
  5. Stephen Byrne #

    Reliably informed it was one Cheesus of Nazareth.

    September 11, 2013
  6. Clearly the reason you can’t swim very far naked is down to the drag caused by your oversized undercarriage. Or you’re deeply unfit and a shame to your generation

    September 11, 2013
    • I was hoping that the undercarriage would give extra buoyancy: like Pamela Anderson’s red torpedoes in Baywatch.

      September 11, 2013
  7. Walter Gawn #

    A little confused as this blog is dated 23/7/13 but Tweet alert on 7/9/13,however I do live in the South West and things take a while to arrive.
    Be careful if you are swimming alone, speedo-less of otherwise! I nearly drowned in someone’s pool, I should say i was there with their blessing but was alone. I was an adult, I think I “mis-breathed” and started to take on water. I made it to the edge, just, but not before going down three times. I have never been a good swimmer, particularly out of my depth, defeats the object somehow!
    I wonder if your Mother got the cravat at Kinch & Lack in Guildford?

    September 8, 2013
    • I think the problem is that I started writing it in July and shamefully did not finish until early September. I think both you and I are nature’s paddlers. If the good Lord had meant us to swim, he would have webbed our feet.
      The shop in Guildford was called Colts.
      I have asked.

      September 11, 2013

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