Showing posts from June, 2018

Gardening: a warning from nature

A friend of mine who is a gardener was bemoaning his workload to me and wondering how he was going to cope with the demands of the coming days. I mentioned that I was currently at something of a loose end and I could just about tell one end of a spade from the other (I would google it as soon as I got home) and he, perhaps rather foolishly, agreed to offer me some casual work. As a result of this chance meeting I appear to have become a gardener.
Now when I use the title 'gardener', this suggests that I have some deep knowledge of greenery and a profound understanding of the land around me, which I do not.  I use this term to describe myself purely because I have done some gardening and therefore I can claim it in good faith. I have got the weals, bites and cuts to justify the title even if I remain a complete amateur.  I have cut stuff back, I have deadheaded roses, I have dug up roots, I have removed ivy, I have tussled with a bush whose name even now escapes me but it blood…

Dig out your misplaced optimism, England, it's the World Cup!

It's here again, the four yearly exercise in ambition, dreams, angst and eventual failure for anybody who takes an interest in English football.  I am a fairly poor fan, a former season ticket holder at Oxford United who nowadays seldom gets to a match but who talks a good game when required to in the pub and who follows their results with increasing surprise as they've turned into quite a formidable team.  The now obligatory affection for my team aside, as a resident of the central, south and eastern part of this island I am, of course, also a long-suffering follower of the most mercurial, frustrating, exhilarating team in the world,  the stuttering, infuriating but occasionally brilliant England.

And it hurts.

It hurts because England won the World Cup once. Because England have all the elements in place to be successful again: an established league system, a bunch of over-promoted, overpaid but also overly talented players, a football association equipped with the resources…