Monday, 16 November 2009

Pee and Biscuits

It's not enough just to show willing. If you don't actually get your fork out and dig, no earth will be turned. Nothing will come of nothing.
A series of bland statements occured to me as I stood looking out from the doorway of the shed. This acreage was now mine to screw up. To be a bit more exact, this roddage was now mine to screw up.
It wasn't much, really. A bite-size chunk of England. But it was mine and mine alone, at least until I was about to do something stupid, when the previous curator would most likely step in and prevent the damage.
Confronting something you know so little about can either be daunting or liberating. I'll go for the latter. After all, if you let a little thing like cultivation get in the way of your progress through life, you aren't much of a man, are you?
I don't mean that in the sense of man versus woman, you understand. I mean, I am descended from a long line of pastoralists, dating back a long way before trousers.
It is part of my evolutionary thrust to be able to make carrots spring from the earth.
My new mate Geoff told me this only yesterday. Sadly, Geoff has been composting himself for a decade or so now, but he communicates with me through the medium of print, which is something I feel happy about. Whereas in most things I belong to the normal male school of "when all else fails, read the manual", there is something about the size of the challenge when confronting 5 rods of mud and weeds that impels me to seek written instructions.
I think I am undergoing an epiphany. This is a road to B&Q moment.
The thing that converted me, talking to Geoff last week, was the realisation that I could pee my way to success. It made everything seem very natural and, frankly, earthy.
Urine is a great accelerator, Geoff told me. Well, I knew that: I've rarely run so fast as when I was desperate for a wee at a picnic with some posh friends - inlcuding a girl I was trying to cultivate - in an Oxfordshire field, and I suddenly realised that there was nowhere to go except a clump of trees about 200 yards away.
But I don't think that is what Geoff meant. He wants me to pee on the compost heap. He says it will warm things up. Quite right too.
So for the past few days all my trips to the loo at home, well not all obviously, but the standing-up kind, have been diverted to the back door where I keep a medium-sized brown jug. When full, I transfer to a four-litre milk bottle and when that was completed this morning, I brought it down here to the plot.
It was an odd feeling, pouring what the former curator calls "holy water" onto a load of kitchen scraps and then heaping a thin layer of earth on top. But it did feel "real".
The most important thing is that after putting that much of oneself into the new religion of horticulture, it is necessary to restore some of one's inner calm with a plain Choco Leibniz. Or six.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

I Only Joined For The Biscuits

So I there I was, innocently minding my own business, secretly yearning for a chocolate digestive, but hoping not to have to make the tea. It was nearly tea-time. Well it was some while since lunch, anyway. I hadn't broken anything for an hour or two, I'd ripped up a bit of bindweed in the corner, moved some stuff about in the shed, picked a few raspberries. I deserved, at least from my point of view, a biscuit.
She comes to the door of the shed. She puts her fork down, wipes her slightly sweaty brow with a muddy glove and she tells me her idea.
"Why don't you do the compost heaps?"
I reply: "Do you want a biscuit?"
Her: "No, I mean, why don't you take charge of doing the compost? It could be your job."
Me: "What about a cup of tea, AND a biscuit?"
Her: "You just need to clear that corner, the other side of the bin. Then you could build another heap. Or make a new bin. You know, if you were my compost steward, it would really help. What do you think?"
I thought: "I want a biscuit." But I didn't say it.
This conversation wasn't going well. Apart from the obvious fact that she was trying to get me to do some work, I mean some actual WORK, on the allotment, which was in my opinion a clear breach of our agreement, it was also obvious that she wasn't interested in a cup or tea, or a biscuit.
Recklessly, and in the interests of creating goodwill, purely as a precursor to creating the circumstances for moving the subject closer to farinaceous products, you understand, I said: "Er, well..., um, I suppose I could, maybe."
She said: "Great. It'll be great. We can do it together. You do the compost, I'll do the rest. I'll help you with the rest." There was silence. Or at least silence apart from the sound of goalposts being torn out of the ground and moved several yards to the side.
She went on: "Otherwise, you know, I don't think I can...we might have just takes too long all on your own... and you're the one who..."
That was a series of unfinished sentences which added up to her saying this: "I'm too busy to keep this allotment going on my own. You are the one who likes coming down here and sitting on your fat arse eating biscuits. If you want to keep it going. Pull. Your. Bloody. Finger. Out.
"Digestive?" I said, proffering her the packet.