Having the ME come roaring back in the wake of the flu is perversely proving to be rather good for my poor neglected garden—because I’ve essentially cancelled everything and am staying home and . . . sitting around is not my best thing even when I feel fairly deathlike I’M NOT DEAD YET so in this shockingly spring like weather with the SUNLIGHT and all the accoutrements like gentle breezes and bumblebees, I’ve been going outdoors and poking things with a trowel. Although this is the time of year that I usually do try to make an effort to establish some kind of . . . well, let’s not get carried away and call it order, but some kind of rough beating back of the jungle* outdoors, while I’ve got last autumn’s disgraceful plant over-orders relentlessly arriving in the post in instalments what feels like every day.** But spring is also when, as you clear off/out the AMAZING amounts of rubbish you haven’t dealt with since . . . oh, August or so***, you get to see what’s alive† and what isn’t . . . as well as look for where the doodah you’re going to PUT all the stuff arriving in the post. ††
Two more boxes of plants in the post today, one of them petunias, siiiiiigh . . . we’re supposed to have more frelling frost over the weekend. My sweet peas, having rejoiced at finally getting outdoors and off the Winter Table over the hellhound crate in the kitchen, are now starting to get cranky again: sweet peas don’t like their roots messed with and they’re starting to punch through the pressed whatever-it-is-not-peat plant pots that you plant as is, and the roots grow through it and the pot disintegrates (more or less). An old experienced (professional) gardener I often see out walking his dogs says plant ’em out now, they’ll be fine. Ummmmmm . . .
The second box . . . is wider than it is high. It is, however, vividly and generously labelled THIS WAY UP with helpful arrows on all four surfaces suitable for this direction. And when I opened it . . . the single plant within is lying on its side because it is TALLER than it is WIDE and this is the ONLY WAY this particular plant would FIT in this particular box. Said plant is a pitcher plant, so it is planted in what amounts to a small piece of marsh which of course has poured all over the bottom floor of the This Way Up box. ARRRRRRRRRRGH. Nursery mailroom FAIL.
I didn’t get the petunias potted on today which is maybe just as well if the touch of FROST TONIGHT††† is true since a small tray is easier to wedge indoors than a large tray‡ but I would have got all the new roses planted . . . if I hadn’t bought two more yesterday when I was buying a BIRTHDAY PRESENT for a FRIEND. Thus do thoughtful gestures screw you up and make extra work. ‡‡
PS: Staying at home is also good for my knitting.
* * *
* Souvenir de la Malmaison, I’m looking at you. Actually there’s a whole dangerous little gauntlet right there. Souvenir is the worst, but Little Rambler who is not little is rioting on the other side of the path and Agnes, who as a rugosa should probably be categorised as a dangerous weapon anyway, has eight-foot stems looking for trouble just beyond Little Rambler. Abandon Hope All Ye Who Are Dumb Enough to Try to Enter Here. I’ve also decided that I don’t mind the bleeding freely nearly as much as I mind having one of the three Evil Sisters grab me by the hair. BEHAVE OR I’LL PRUNE YOU.
** The mornings I’ve had a bad night and haven’t lumbered out of bed yet are inevitably the mornings when one of the new, young, timid or letter-rule-toeing pains in the ass postpersons can’t just leave the frelling box(es) but has to KNOCK ON THE DOOR AND GET ME TO ANSWER IT.
*** It’s very good for wildlife NOT to have a tidy garden. You’re supposed to leave all the brush and dead stuff standing, okay? I am very wildlife oriented.
† CLEMATIS FLAMMULA. YAAAAAAAAY. http://apps.rhs.org.uk/plantselector/plant?plantid=4415
She keeps dying on me. Now that this one has survived a winter I’m afraid to pot her on. . . .
†† Furthermore I have frelling Alicia visiting on Monday. I could have said no. I could at least not have offered her Third House to stay overnight in. Sadly I would quite like to see her. What’s the matter with me? She is not only a gardener with a proper functioning greenhouse^ but she’s lately done all kinds of extensive and exquisite remodelling on her house and . . . um . . . ^^
^ Continuing AAAAAAAAUGH on this subject. Although I hear a rumour that Atlas is over his flu so he can perhaps have shovelled out the worst Monday before she gets here. Not that even at its best my greenhouse could fairly be described as functioning.
^^ Note that Alicia reads the blog. Hi Alicia! ::waves::
††† We had a hailstorm yesterday which took out one of my baby cosmos and ripped off a few geranium stems—but they’ll regrow, and I think the cosmos is toast. WHO WANTS TO BE A GARDENER. Fool.
‡ Although the Winter Table, which exists to support the indoor jungle on chilly overnights, is presently covered with rose photos mostly cut out of old calendars . . . remember the new refrigerator? Remember that my Dwarf Appliances thrust themselves in an unsightly manner into the centre of the room? Well, the back of my new refrigerator needs decorating.
‡‡ Like offering friends with better control of their lives and environments a place to stay overnight.
I’m still pretty haunted by yesterday’s news* but it’s been another mild spring day, remember those?, we used to have ’em, and I’ve been out in the garden for the second day in a row.** It completely baffles me why some things live and some die. Take pansies. I adore pansies and I can usually rely on getting one good season out of them . . . but my record on keeping them going is PATHETIC and only slowly improving. I’ve finally got a mat of those ‘wild’ pansies with big heart-shaped leaves and little toothy faces growing in a big pot in a corner whose main element has died, and I’m afraid to disturb the frelling pansies by putting something else in. It took me about three tries to get these things going—and they’re supposed to be tough as old boots and will grow and thrive anywhere. No. Wrong. This lot is dark pink which is, of course, excellent, but I’d have their pale-pink sisters too . . . but I think I’ve given up. Rebecca*** is a big favourite. I have four of her in a big pot. One of them is insanely hearty. One of them is not too bad. One of them is a weedy little thing. One of them is dead. WHY? IT’S THE SAME POT.
On the other hand my eremurus robustus† is still alive. WHY? They’re frelling tricky plants†† and I was out of my tiny mind to buy it in the first place—they’re also not cheap. I did try to plant it correctly but, eh, I can’t even get four of the same pansies in a pot to flourish simultaneously, why should a notorious ratbag do anything but croak at the earliest opportunity? It didn’t flower last year but it grew. And then it disappeared over the winter and I thought yup, right—and was thinking about putting a rose in that big pot††† when today . . . IT’S ALIVE. And I was absolutely thrilled to discover that my clematis Arctic Queen‡ IS STILL ALIVE. She has kept getting buried by the frelling gigantic Fantin Latour‡‡ which I moved up to Third House this winter, but Fantin wasn’t delighted with the experience and the ground she came out of got pretty torn up. I wasn’t expecting Arctic Queen to have survived. BUT SHE DID. So I fed her and put a copper ring around her to discourage slugs, which adore young clematis stems above almost anything but your lettuces and strawberries, and did a small not-ground-disturbing dance of joy on what passes for the path between the beds.
There are a few advantages to ghastly cold springs. The slug population is not what it should be in mid-April. YAAAAAAAAAAAAAY. But my real triumph, not that it has anything to do with me, it’s just the luck of circumstance: I haven’t seen a single horrid red disgusting lily beetle AND MY GARDEN IS FULL OF FRITILLARIES.‡‡‡ Pretty much for the first time ever, in the eight years I’ve been at the cottage. First I had to get them established—which in this case was not that difficult—and then the lily beetle scourge settled in. But apparently lily beetles don’t like the cold. Now that’s worth disturbing a little ground to dance for.
* * *
You know one of those three people who died was an eight-year-old boy who was there to watch his dad run? And that his mother and his six-year-old sister are ‘seriously’ injured, which probably means they had bits blown off. Imagine what it’s going to be like for that family now.
I was sitting sadly on my stool by the Aga this morning, which is where I usually do my first praying (as well as tea-drinking) of the day, and thinking about Boston, and feeling useless. Ask me in six months or ten years, but it seems to me that prayer comforts the pray-er partly because if you manage to make contact with the prayer-space (and it’s not a given that you’re going to, every time: sometimes all you can do is go through the motions—and I’ve been told this by people who’ve been doing it a long time, so it’s not just my inexperience) you know it’s all one, that the great mystical Oneness is true. Because you’re there. It’s like walking into a tree. Wham. Yup. Tree. Bark. Leaves. Feet in the dirt, head in the sky. You’re not going to argue about it. And your praying itself—my praying anyway—becomes less a doing something^ than a being there, another witnessing, I suppose, as you might sit by the bedside of someone who’s ill or hurt or dying, or walk the dog and pick up the post and bring cups of tea and not say useless things to someone who’s grieving. Which is a doing without doing, if you like. What you want is to be able to fix it, whatever it is. You can’t. But you can be there.
Still. Being there for hundreds of people you don’t know who are three thousand miles away feels like a fairly tall order. And then I remembered that St Margaret’s has a prayer chain. You can ask for stuff to be prayed for. So I rang Lotte and she wrote it down and then said, in the same gentle voice she’d used when she’d pointed out I’d be eligible to become a member of St Margaret’s if I wanted to, Would I like to become a member of the prayer chain myself?
Oh. Yeep. Yes. Yeep, but yes.
Well, that’s going to make me frelling focus. . . .
^ Although that’s another big plus for the pray-er. When you want to do something and there isn’t anything you can do, for whatever reason . . . yes there is. You can pray. And while I realise this in itself isn’t going to convert anybody this is a very great thing—as every member of every religion that includes prayer knows. Helplessness, uselessness is totally the worst.
** AND THERE IS PROGRESS ON THE WALL. I forgot to bring my frelling camera with me today when I went back to the cottage from the mews after lunch. Arrrrrrgh. But there WILL BE PHOTOS.
*** Who looks like this: http://www.perryhillnurseries.co.uk/Catalogue/Perennials/images/Resized_ViolaRebecca.jpg
They’re big magnificent-looking things. But these look white which they aren’t. Here’s a close up that gives you a better idea of the colour:
†† If you read the gardenersworld.com description you’ll notice it says ‘skill level—experienced’. Chiefly I’m experienced in being ripped to shreds by roses^, and watching things die.
^ I was thinking again today, while bleeding freely, why do we DO it? Why do we grow frelling roses? Why is it WORTH THE PAIN? Dunno. But I wouldn’t be without them. I just scream a lot.
††† I seem to have more roses to find places for.
‘Skill level experienced’? Piffle. Most clematis are easy. They like their feet in the shade and their heads in the sun, and you must not muck about with their roots, but beyond that if you keep them fed and watered they’ll do fine. We won’t, however, get into the, you should forgive the term, thorny question of pruning categories.
Here’s a better idea of the bush
All the Fantins I’ve ever seen have been substantially bigger than what they tell you on the rose sites. Mine had easily six and a half foot stems . . . in several directions.
‡‡‡ http://www.rhs.org.uk/Gardens/Rosemoor/About-Rosemoor/Plant-of-the-month/April/Fritillaria-meleagris Love love love. I have a few white ones too. http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2012/sep/07/plant-offer-snakes-head-fritillary
. . . Well, puppyhood doesn’t last long. . . .
VOICE LESSONS START AGAIN NEXT MONDAY. YAAAAAAAAAY. Like I have time to drop voice lessons back into the maelstrom. While Pavlova is still little and somewhat, ahem, unpredictable* I’m going to take her along, and walk her either before or after;** there are some nice footpaths out there, and she’s still small enough to pick up if we meet any dogs of uncertain intentions.*** Which will also be when I find out that voice lessons make her howl. She doesn’t howl when I’m just dubbing around with the piano, but the emphasis there is on the ‘dubbing’. Nadia will have me begging for mercy pretty quickly I fear, possiby in shrill and squeaky tones. I had all these plans about the music I was going to learn while she was off having babies, to impress her with when she got back. Sigh. But I do have a PUPPY.
I had a fabulous new idea about socialising said puppy. Today I took her to a rose nursery.† Hey, there are PEOPLE at a rose nursery.†† There might even be other dogs. And in fact there were other dogs: a friendly Corgi and a shepherd/collie cross who shares Darkness’ attitude toward puppies, including the strong direct ‘you’ve got to be kidding’ glare at the human responsible. And tonight going bell ringing when I put her back in her crate as we were about to begin she had a strop, clearly saying, SO WHEN ARE YOU GOING TO TEACH ME TO RING? I CAN STAND ON A BOX, CAN’T I? STOP TRIFLING WITH ME. I’M NOT JUST LITTLE AND CUTE.
* * *
* I can’t tell if any of this isn’t just that she’s a puppy and sphincter control is variable. She’s mostly getting through the nights clean and dry^ but she has yet to get through a day without peeing on her crate bedding at least once. Arrrgh. It may be partly that she still likes indoors so much better than outdoors—indoors has FOOOOOOOOD and TOYS and HELLHOUNDS!!!!—that she doesn’t finish the frelling job. There are downsides to everything. I’m delighted to have a FOOOOOOOOD-oriented dog because it means you can always catch her attention—and as we roll into winter I hope it means she’s not going to be hanging around outdoors to cavort in the arctic blast^^—but she is a trifle too distractible. When you’re outside waiting for her to relieve herself you can’t afford to pull out the little rustly bag of puppy kibble till after she’s finished what she’s doing OR SHE’LL STOP IN THE MIDDLE to dash up, plaster herself against your leg and look hopeful. THAT’S THE WRONG KIND OF SPHINCTER CONTROL, HONEYBUN.^^^
She also doesn’t like the dark much. This means that at night I can stand, with somewhat dubious complacency, at the top of the little curly walkway in Peter’s back garden, near the door, with both the sitting-room and Peter’s study lights blazing through the big windows, and if she disappears into the shadows, if I don’t follow her with my torch, she reappears promptly, looking somewhat reproachful, although she’s not good at reproachful (yet).# This is excellent over most of the lengthening winter evenings at the mews but last thing at night at the cottage, where the set-up is less congenial, not so much.
After trying to get a crap out of Pavlova, who will then probably last the night, but who thinks the cul de sac is full of bogeydogs and chiefly wants to go back indoors and EAT SOMETHING, and then striving to find tonight’s unique and exactingly proper ritual that will allow hellhounds to eat their supper (while Pavlova is yowling at the inadequacy of her final snack) I am a gibbering wreck. Sleep? What?##
+ I’m trying to decide which is the bigger YAAY, for singing lessons restarting or a clean puppy. Tough call.
^^ I should have had her down my coat-front on Saturday. A pocket heater than kicks. Hey, I missed a socialisation opportunity. She hasn’t been to a wedding yet.
^^^ Too much information warning: I clearly don’t have a clue about how often she needs to pee or we wouldn’t keep having damp bedding. But I do have a clue about how often she needs a crap and proceed accordingly. Today she had assumed the position and the desired result was emerging, and I said Good girl . . . AND SHE SUCKED IT BACK IN AND RUSHED UP TO ME FOR HER TREAT. AAAAAAAAAAAAAARGH. It took another couple of minutes—while I turned purple with all the things I was not saying—for her to settle down again and frelling do it.
# Chaos is the master of reproachful. May he remain the undisputed master of sad-but-accusing in this household.
## I’ve got most of the puppy-knitting yarn wound up again. It’s funny, this has been a less blood-pressure-raising job than the other night when the very end of a till-that-moment amenable hank ran amok.^ I went into this one knowing that it is a SNARL OF EPIC PROPORTIONS so it was like ho, hum, knots in seven dimensions? With teeth? And demonic giggling? Whatever.
^ One might almost say it hucklebutted.
** Although the ‘small enough to pick up’ is really not going to last much longer. I can still carry her one-armed only because (a) she thinks I can and (b) part of Olivia’s socialisation process includes practise dangling and Pavlova dangles extremely well. But when Niall and I stopped at the pub again^ coming back from ringing Pavlova’s fan club said, Ooooooh, she’s GROWN SO BIG. Yes. And I’m shovelling food into her. No, make that SHOVELLING.
^ It’s such good puppy socialisation. The cider is incidental.
*** Nadia seems to think it’s pretty quiet around Sorghumlea. It might be worth bringing hellhounds as well. It’s really very bad for dogs around New Arcadia and having my head down over this puppy-raising business is resulting in a lot of in-town, pavement walks for hellhounds, which get dispiriting after a while.
† Don’t ask. Several. But Peter did not have to sit on the roof coming home with Pavlova in his lap.
†† She eats thorns and thorny stems. Just by the way. Or she would. I’m labouring under what is no doubt the delusion that I’m getting them away from her in time. I, however, manage to stab myself and bleed. Ow.
SHADOWS IS DRIVING ME CRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAZY.
Okay, okay, like this is unusual or surprising or anything. Books exist to make their so-called authors crazy. It’s part of the system. I’m sure there’s a good evolutionary reason for this.* But I’m like hours from FINISHING THE DAMN THING AND SUDDENLY. . . . ARRRGGGLLLLGGZZZZRRRRMMMMMP.**
So let me tell you about my major breakthrough in the garden at the cottage.***
I’ve been taking out some of my literary frustrations in the garden.† This began about a fortnight ago when somehow or other Gemma got out there. I don’t let people out in my garden when . . . well, when you basically can’t get through the kitchen door without a machete and/or flamethrower. I tried to block her but she feinted and swerved and escaped past me (wielding her machete).
It’s a mess, I said, following her crestfallenly.
No, she said judiciously—Gemma has a gift for finding the nice thing to say—it’s just very full.
But look, LOOK! I have been labouring extremely, and see what I have produced! Unveiled! Chairs! A table! I could sit down in my garden! With a friend! —I only have the two chairs. There aren’t more hiding in the shrubbery or anything. But you haven’t been able to see either the table or the chairs for months. They’ve—er—had plants on them.
. . . And then look what a friend brought me recently. I looked at the roses before I looked at the label, and started to laugh. I didn’t need to look at the label. I’ve been resisting her for seven years now.†† But as my friend (who does not live in Hampshire) said, Look, you have to grow her. How many roses named after famous Hampshire landmarks are there anyway?†††
To be continued.
* * *
* Like there’s a good evolutionary reason for forty-three species of parrots and nipples for men.^
^ Pop culture reference alert. I feel I need to tell you, since I don’t do pop culture very well, and you won’t be expecting it.+
+ Old pop culture. TIME BANDITS was 1981?!?!?? There are grown ups who weren’t born in 1981.
** C’mon, Mongo the Wonder Dog! Pull another rabbit out of your hat-equivalent!^
^ Although for anyone who doesn’t read the forum+ b_twin posted a Wonder Dog clip:
+ You should, you know. I don’t drag all the interesting comments out here.
*** And then maybe I’ll go back to SHADOWS for a bit. Maybe. Or maybe I’ll go sing something. I quite fancy Pirate Jenny this evening. Kill them now or later? —Right now.^
^ Okay. I admit it. I’m often in the mood for Pirate Jenny.
† When the weather lets me. We’re still having YAAAAAAAH INCOMING rainstorms. Occasionally with thunder. I’m not sleeping well anyway and I found myself about two feet above the mattress with my hair standing on end a couple of nights ago when there was a thunderstorm. Generally speaking I like living on a hill—a little hill—but when the sky-giants are using your town as a bowling alley suddenly subterranean looks really good.
And one of these nights the new Late Hurtle is going to be interrupted by inclemency. If not sooner, then later, like, December, when there’s frelling ice on those murky black surfaces. Meanwhile hellhounds have taken to Late Hurtling with distressing enthusiasm. When I was just bringing them back to the cottage they would stagger out of their bed at the mews, make the supreme effort of jumping into the back seat of Wolfgang^, and be determinedly fast asleep by the time we drove twenty-three seconds down the road to the cottage, and I’d have to haul them back out of the car again.
Now I totter down to the cottage from Wolfgang’s slot at the top of the hill with all my frelling kit^^, and by the time I return to fetch hellhounds they’re pressed eagerly against the back window saying, what took you so long?
Despite my notorious time-related depravity, I have hitherto not been accustomed to wandering around outdoors at mmph o’clock and . . . there are hundreds of hedgehogs out there. I hope this means that hedgehogs, at least, are having a good year. I fear that some of hellhounds’ delight in late hurtling may have something to do with a prevalence of hedgehogs: but I’ve prevented them from catching any yet so I hope they’ll come to appreciate^^^ the quieter joys of . . . chasing the THOUSANDS of cats infesting the landscape at night. GAAAAAAAAAAH. I knew we had a cat problem in this town but this is ridiculous.
At the moment, however, the lack of aggressive off-lead dogs is worth even six cats to the square foot.
^ Haven’t you bought that ramp yet?
^^ I swear one of the best things about knitting is how much it doesn’t weigh.
^^^ At least till December
†† I grew her at the old house, and she didn’t do all that well. Some time recently, but I can’t find the thread now, someone in the forum was ranting about what useless pieces of rubbish Austin roses are and she wouldn’t be caught dead with any of them in her garden, etc. Hmm. Well, I do think Austins are overrated because they tend to be presented (at least around here) as the only thing or at least the most desirable thing. You go to the rose section of your local nursery and there are maybe two or three random hybrid teas and then ranks and ranks of Austins. Lighten up. There are other roses. But roses are like real estate: it’s all location, location, LOCATION. If you can find a place where an Austin is happy, she’s as lovely as the next rose—and sometimes lovelier. I think I’ve mentioned here before that I’m doing much better with Austins in feverishly over-fed pots in a tiny sheltered in-town garden(s) than I did at the old house, which was in a frost pocket.^ So I’m hoping Mme Winchester Cathedral will be fat and contented here. The flowers are divine.^^
^ I know. Every garden is in a frost pocket. Ask every gardener. Still. The pocket at the old house was frostier than here.
^^ Which is appropriate after all.
††† If I ever have several thousand pounds to throw away, I’ll sponsor Austin or Beales or Harkness or someone to produce a Forzadeldestino Abbey rose. There are other important Hampshire landmarks.
It is now hot. Two days ago it was cold and sheeting and it is now HOT. My blood—as well as my brain—is still in Thick and Cold-Resistant mode. Hellhounds are all over me as I put my shoes and their harnesses on and then we walk outdoors into Wall of Heat and . . . they turn and look at me reproachfully. Again. There was a lot of reproachful looking two days ago with the cold and the sheeting. There was a lot of reproachful looking for weeks, there, with the cold and the sheeting. They’re going to lose faith in me. If they weren’t dogs they would ALREADY have lost faith in me.* Dogs: the only love, and against-all-evidence confidence in your omnipotence, that money can buy. It’s not necessarily a good bargain. Siiiiiiigh.
It has not been a great day overall.** It’s too HOOOOT and when I went up to Third House to view the situation for practicalities beyond sufficient compost and rose food because we have people coming to stay the end of the week, I found I’m out of things like soap and paper towels—how does this HAPPEN? Do basic household supplies MIGRATE or something? Cheez. And all the roses need deadheading, but I knew that.***
And then Niall and I went to Curlyewe tonight. We’d been due to go a few weeks ago and then Niall’s car was run into by a deer. Sic. He did not run into it, it ran into him.† Ex-deer and ex-car. We went to Curlyewe in his new car tonight.†† We blundered through the usual suspects (ouch! Oof!) on handbells†††, and then tower practise . . . the big kids got stuck on trying to ring a touch of Cambridge, which kept breaking down—cue heated discussion on who got what wrong and why—and then they’d try it again and something/someone else would go wrong. After this by the time they’d dragged their assortment of beginners through a great many plain courses of bob doubles it was time to ring down again. Feh. But I got a lot of knitting done.
Tomorrow could be better. Maybe I’ll try to get up earlier so we can hurtle before hellhound melting point is reached.
* * *
* If they weren’t dogs, they wouldn’t be thinking I control the weather anyway. When cats turn and glare at you after you’ve opened the door on meteorological extravagances they don’t approve of, you have the feeling that they aren’t surprised. They’ve always known you were a broken reed. With dogs it’s like every day you’re taking the ice-cream away from the four-year-old child who idolises you just because you can. The sad, forlorn look. The ‘what have I done wrong that you treat me so cruelly’ look. AAAAAAAUGH.^
^ Although . . . hellhounds. Speaking of AAAAAAAUGH. Hellhounds are their own little demonic subgroup within the vast complex enigma that is dog. We are continuing to struggle through an anti-food period. It’s not as bad as it was, but I’m still not having a good time. Lunch today, for example. They hid frantically in the back of the dog bed while I was putting it together and when I came after them with it they gave me the whole collapsed-subsmissive-enormous-tortured-eyes thing. It’s difficult to concentrate+ when you have to get out of your chair every ten minutes or so to move hellhound bowls and chirrup at them in a friendly and encouraging manner: ‘Eat your lunch, you monsters of prandial depravity before I turn you into rose fertilizer.’++
They did, eventually. Eat lunch. All that moving around gave them an appetite. About half an hour later I decided I’d better cut up the chicken for their supper, because Niall and I were going to Curlyewe, which is too frelling far away, and I had asked Peter if he’d feed them before I would get back. Suddenly I am besieged by a seethe of eager scrap-begging hellhounds. What the frell, guys? Eating makes you hungry?
+ I have only JUST had an important bit of frelling plot machinery delivered. FOR GODSSAKE YOU STORY COUNCIL GUYS, GIVE A WORKING WRITER A BREAK. I’m through the last draft, I’m at the final tinkering stage—the making sure the heroine’s second cousin’s boyfriend’s dog is a Dalmatian on both page 47 and page 213#—the plot was obviously The Plot and I had decided that this particular aspect of it was supposed to remain mysterious. Okay, I can do mysterious. I’d quite like to know what’s going on myself but . . . okay, okay, I don’t know, it’s not going to be in the story, whatever, fine, it’s not my decision, it’s never my decision . . . AND THEY SEND IT TO ME NOW? THEY SEND IT TO ME NOOOOOW? Frelling frelling frelling frelling FRELLING FRELLING FREEEELLLLLLLLINGGGGGG. I mean, no, it doesn’t change the story—for which I am devoutly grateful—but it sure casts some heavy srggghffdblugging atmosphere, we’re all a little rocked back on our heels here and our eyebrows are lightly singed.## Adjectives. I need some new adjectives.###
# Okay, you don’t meet any of Maggie’s second cousins, let alone their boyfriends or their boyfriends’ dogs, but you know what I mean.
## Even Mongo.
### Frelling does not appear in SHADOWS.
In the hard copy version of this article, which I only read about an hour ago, there is a page opposite the text, of photographs of nine roses. On line you have to squirrel around for another link: http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/gallery/2012/jul/23/growing-roses-best-varieties-in-pictures#/?picture=393471114&index=0 This begins with a photo of Pearson’s own garden which, if a professional gardener can’t do any better I feel he should stick to close-ups of individual blooms. Anyway, I wanted to say, off-handedly, that I have seven of the nine he recommends# although this wouldn’t be my top nine list. I have very mixed feelings about orange in an old-fashioned rose. I have Lady of Shalott because . . .well, because I had to have a rose called Lady of Shalott, and I had to have Benjamin Britten for the same reason. The Lady of Shalott is pretty . . . frelling orange, and I don’t know what to call Benjamin Britten: she’s a sort of very dark burnt orange with a heavy pink overlay. It’s interesting but I’m not sure it’s a rose colour. The two I don’t have are Lady Emma Hamilton because . . . well, orange, and The Alexandra Rose who doesn’t really believe in leaves. I know about mixed borders to hide your roses’ deficiencies, but I feel there are limits about this. I grew TAR at the old house but she’s not one of those that I miss enormously. Those I miss enormously tend to get wedged into a corner here somewhere. . . .
Oh, and that’s a terrible picture of Graham Thomas, who is a glorious pure vivid yellow. This is better: http://www.rhs.org.uk/Gardens/Hyde-Hall/About-HydeHall/Plant-of-the-month/June/Rosa-Graham-Thomas-(-Ausmas-)
# Yes. They’re all David Austins. Yes. I keep saying that Austin roses are overrated. They are overrated. They’re just so sodblasted ubiquitous. And some of them are very nice indeed.
** See previous footnote, about late deliveries.
*** I was also scowling at my wisteria which is, I think, four years old and HAS NEVER PRODUCED A SINGLE FLOWER. I know wisteria are like this, but this is supposedly one of the ones that flower in the first year or two. This one is reverting to its Palaeolithic ancestor which flowers on its fortieth birthday. It’s already got a purple clematis growing through it. Maybe I’ll plant another purple clematis.
† Deer are like this. As some of you probably know.
†† It is very shiny. I am keeping it away from Wolfgang.^
^ And the MGB is dusty.
††† No, no, the shiny new car is fine.