Green fingers.

After thirty one years living in the heart of the East Sussex countryside, with a view to die for and neighbours who take coffee of a sunny afternoon, after 31 years of keeping my bank details in Fenchurch Street, E1, after one score years and eleven I have finally decided to give in to the garden.
When we moved here in 1984 I thought pottering in the open air was for old folks so we had a succession of gardeners.
We do not own a pile but its big enough for three apple trees, a hedge of roses and rosehips, a wall with climbing roses, three plots at the top for veggies and herbs and a lawn that needs loving care.
Our first gardener was Wally Jopson, an ex milkman who wore a cap, came from the North East and grew so much of everything that we shared it out,
He left when we got the dog.
“I’m not having him peeing all over me sprouts” he Geordified.
Then we had a lesbian depressive who attempted wrist slitting on a weekly basis. When she came here she made us a wishing well and dug out four quadrants. She laid a path to the studio door, with real old bricks, and bought us a fountain.
Last week I had to replace it.
Yesterday the old git rigged up a hose and a pipe to suck out the old muddy water, I climbed into the plastic well and cleaned the silty sides with a sponge, your man then filled it with clean water from the water butts. The new fountain is champion.
Our young woman left and eloped to the Lake District with a cat lover.
Somebody who bought some shoes from B when she worked in ‘OFFICE’ shoe shop, came, and using her horticultural degree, hammered together wood planks to keep the mint from spreading too far. She gifted us some Japonica and left little gifts in pots all over the garden. She taught me about composts and overwintering. Still I did not really get involved. She moved on to makeing cakes and is sorely missed.
We’ve had a woman here and there and a geezer who cut too much out of the lawn to make it look like a corporation plot. Finally, about two months ago, I asked a friendly therapist who she used to tend her garden. I met the man who bears a big smile and delivers the best fork action in the area. We now have a human rotivator who moves and sieves, uproots and replants. At precisely 16.00 hours I take him out a mug of freshly brewed coffee with hot milk and one sugar. He has cut down a big yellow shrub and tucked our swing set in under the honesuckle….. It’s heavenly swinging.
Three blackcurrant bushes with huge root balls have been put next to the Vinca Major and the Euoynmous, the very first plant I put in and two Leylandii have been scalped so we now get the sun from sun-rise to sun-down.
I tell you this because finally I have got into gardening. I pot and snip. I plant and trim. I buy reduced terracotta pots with dying daisies that I then lovingly dead head. I have Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme nestled between furry Dill, Comfry and Cowslips. I have blue Azaleas behind a perfect specimen of a pink Jacobs Ladder…..and so it goes on, Running from one end of the garden with watering cans and secateurs to tend the Ranunculus and Peonies.
I mow and smile, plant and grin. I have dirty finger nails and an eye on empty patches. I have just filled the lion plant pots (nicked from our London balcony), with strawberries. Purple sprouting broccoli is living next to perpetual spinach, Cotoneaster, roses and Convolvulus. Three courgette plants, 6 onion plants and six red cabbages are nestled between Aquilegia- that have self seeded – and I’ve just planted up a white garden; lupins, roses and dahlias….
I am a woman possessed.
Today I left it all to the wind and the ‘oosbind and drove with the dawter into Hackney. The roads were empty, the sun balmy and the speed condusive to an old woman.
We unloaded her washing and musical bits, then reparked the car. Walked to the station and took the overground to Highbury and Islington. Never before have I travelled that line. It’s airy and kitted out in orange. It ‘s in the open air and I loved it.
Then a dip down into the tube, Victoria line four stops to Oxford Circus.
Nipped into Liberty’s for my scent – only place I can get it. I have one bottle in my pink bag, one upstairs in my bedroom and one thats nearly finished.
We had a bowl of pasta with lots of black pepper and Parmigianno Reggiano grated over the top.
Walked across the road into THE PALLADIUM where we took our seats in row ‘N’ for ‘Beyond Bollywood.’
Music good – tick.
Visuals slick – tick.
Dancing fabulous – tick.
Good Use of the backdrop and surrounding walls with colourful animation on a loop – tick.
Story – weedy.
Acting – not to my taste.
We left after two hours of Indian excitement.
Took the tube, then the overground and met the old git at THE ARCOLA where he is in his final week.
He drove us back to the girls home to collect the washing basket and my glasses case.
Whilst in Soho I saw the beginnings of the Qatari invasion. Cranes everywhere. Buildings having been demolished, icons pulled down. The Soho skyline is unrecognisable. I shuddered.
The money men from Qatar are buying up swathes of London, making expensive flats and selling them onto wealthy folk who have about as much relationship to this earth as I had 31 years ago.
Me and my gal cried. Linked arms and tutted. Tim Arnold has started a campaign to ‘Save our Soho’. Stephen Fry has lent his voice, as have many other high profile performers. Soho is just the beginning. Tin Pan ally is going too, The Astoria already gone; London is being raped, brick by fecking brick, by people who have never experienced an early morning breakfast in the crisscrossed streets of our lovely Capital.
Sign the petitions, wear the badges, but above all care……