Valerian

 

Certain events punctuate the gardening season. Valerian flowering is one of them and planting out the beans is another. The heady scent wafts on the breeze and comes into its own at dusk. It’s the mature cheese stinky roots that contain the volatile oil used for medicine – a sedative and anxiolytic.

The weather forecast says no more frost. A drizzly day presents an irresistible opportunity and we plant out several trays of beans: runner; borlotti; climbing French and dwarf French. They’re settling in nicely.

A couple of hours of brief rain during the week punctuate the ongoing bone dryness. The need for irrigation cries out again and I watch more nerd videos. A timer? 12v pump vs gravity feed? What diameter pipe? It’s overwhelming.

The lush gardens on the internet, already yielding generous fayre, are a long way ahead of ours but there is promise. The peas in the pea house look sick, but the patch in the field are thriving and there are ears on the swaying rye.

The brassica patch, now netted from the magpies is recovering and onions and garlic are doing well. The greenhouslet is packed with tomato, chilli, basil, courgette, squash and other seedlings. Some of the tomatoes are getting big and once again I’m reminded of the loon-ness of trying to grow plants commercially without a greenhouse. I must, I must finish the one in the field.

Rye ears

 

One of the upsides of the virus is an increased camaraderie on the hillside. We’ll be more functional as an allotment association when this lot is over. In particular, the handful of us committed to organic gardening are planning to get organised to grow and sell plants. I have a selling dyslexia. I mention to Phil that I have plants ready for sale but no outlet. He mentions putting them on his social media buy and sell. Next thing, he’s sold a load and comes and picks them up. It’s a big thrill. He’s also secured a source of organic compost, and we go halves on a van-load.

Gwen and I pot on loads more seedlings and plant more seeds in excited anticipation of more sales. The prospect of pickles, jams, ointments, seeds, gardening and landscaping services is equally exciting. Can’t wait to be able to do a plant sale in the van, even if it’s just an impromptu one at the bottom of the track.

beans planted

 

The Andy Wyeth painting alluded to in the book (‘The field stretches above reminding me of an Andy Wyeth painting.’) is Christina’s World, painted in 1948There’s a story behind the painting and it’s as much a portrayal of a state of mind as a physical place. I like all that hint and metaphor stuff. It’s used throughout spiritual teaching in order to trick the slippery human mind into thinking outside the box. Andy Wyeth is one of my favourite painters. He’s best known for his exquisitely sensual Helga paintings – there are stories behind all his paintings. I’m seeing nature in art and art in nature and at this rate I’ll be getting a paint brush out for the first time in years.

Andy Wyeth's Christina's World

 

That irreconcilable mental unease surrounding the virus continues. The conflicting advice. The number of scientific papers and so on. The English government’s panoramic fuck-uppery continues unabated. Quarantining of all people coming in on flights? It’s too f-ing late. What about ferries and the channel tunnel? It’s an all or nothing process.

If you tell it like it is, you can be dismissed as a loon or conspiracy theorist. Certain information is readily available though. Dominic Cummings was employed by Matthew Elliot in 2012 for his efficient ruthlessness. The plan to leave Europe was already on the table. Corruption, lies and billionaire funding established them all and their ultra-right wing team and now they’re running the country. The public haven’t heard of Elliot, even though he’s a cabinet member.

Puppet Johnson is an irrelevance. A blow-up comic doll who can be replaced with Starmer or anyone else in order to give the pretence of a democracy. They will still be in charge. They will spin, lie and do anything to bring the public on board.

Cheeky magpie

 

The latest comedy gold is Cumming’s Durham travels. Two trips to see his ma. There are conflicting stories and they can’t all be true, leaving the absolute certainty that they are lying. All the Etonion crones are instructed to get on Twitter and defend him and the press do everything to spin the truth in his favour. He has flagrantly ignored the government’s own guidance and still there are ordinary people who believe that this government represents their interests.

There is genuine public anger but will it translate beyond the usual dull bourgeois Fuck all as usual action? Probably not. En-masse decisive action could topple them, but people are too busy on Zoom, Tik-tok, FB, Twitter etc to truly appreciate what’s happening under their noses. Have all those people really died? Have all those healthcare workers really lost their lives caring for the sickest affected by it? The herd immunity strategy inevitably means more doctors, nurses and other key workers dying unnecessarily – that’s the bitterest pill to swallow.

I have to ask the same question again. At what point did the previously incisive and questioning English public become so utterly and panoramically fucking dull? This event has affected everyone’s lives. Certain already-rich people are profiting immensely from it. Others face destitution. Peer between the cracks and question everything.

It’s always worth appraising the science properly. Lets look at the effective vaccines to date for SIRS, MERS, the common cold and other coronaviruses. Lets look at the nature of coronaviruses and how they mutate. Is it possible to create an effective vaccine for the latest coronavirus? There’s talk of the vaccine (when it arrives) being compulsory. We need to watch the science carefully. 

Dirty old town skyline

 

At morning handover, there are ten or so of us sitting round the seminar room table, all wearing masks, protecting us beautifully from any circulating 80 to 120 nanometer virons. There’s an element of comedy, highlighted by TG’s & BL’s subtle Irish banter. Leahy replaces every ‘him’ and ‘her’ with ‘himself’ and ‘herself’ when handing over. Is he just being his Dublin himself or is he deliberately being more west-of-Ireland than usual to take the piss out of TG? I suspect the latter. TG scoffs sardonically and repeats each ‘himself’ and ‘herself’ under his breath so they’re still a comedy duo, even at low throttle.

Apparently, we don’t have to wear full PPE any more apart from Aerosol generating procedures. This is a new change since my 2 weeks off. I don’t know where the change has come from and I don’t know the evidence behind it so I can’t comment. In my tiny naive mind, if a sick patient with COVID is coughing in an enclosed space, then a surgical mask, plastic apron and gloves provide zero protection but that’s just my opinion based on evidence I’ve read from Italy.

peas

 

I’m several weeks into my own personal lock-down and have got into a satisfactory lurching groove. I’m a shit cook and I’m still eating too much crap. There’s been a natural reset – I’m used to cooler temperatures – I’ve hardly lit the stove and I just need less stuff. I’ve been thinking a lot about making music vids again. Normally, other people are involved so there’s an ongoing incentive. Doing a lock-down vid on my own feels a bit twatty, but I’ve come up with the idea of a piss-take Lock-down singalong with Sage. Meanwhile, here’s one I did earlier, exploring the bureaucracy vs common sense conundrum of the furloughed work from home paradox.

new plant stand

 

It’s a very windy day – cool and cloudy. I have no energy and I’m not in the mood for doing anything – mooching in the van with the radio on. My niece Esme turns up and in a couple of hours, we’ve built another three-tier plant stand – her arrival is a catalyst. I do the measuring, and she saws all the wood – tile baton, slate baton and 3×2.

I quite like the idea of a bunch of misfits and radicals building something better from what’s readily available – on the fringe, independent of the global greed machine. I’m thinking of arranging a meeting. Locally grown organic plants and food anyone?