DAY 25: Tues 7 April

Finding a home for the dahlias

How come if I sit down at my computer first thing, it is midday before I get up? Even with a nasty cut on my index finger, from an open can last evening, I can’t seem to stop stabbing at the keyboard.

Today is World Health Day, what better time to remember all those working so hard to keep others alive. So many health workers around the world are losing their Iives in the process. And many other public servants are risking their lives so that those of us hiding from the coronavirus will survive the pandemic. It is hard to imagine what life is like for them.

For me each day must start with a check on the chickens to make sure they are watered and fed, and to decide whether they must remain in quarantine or may be allowed some exercise in the garden. Three eggs today, including a fourth pullet egg.

I feel like a sluggard – not out working in the garden until the afternoon. But then inspiration kicks in. This year I am going to try and cultivate some proper flowers. Dahlias. Never done that before. I have two tubers and two matching pots in which to try them out. But. The pots are already occupied and I must find homes for the occupants first. One has a rose, the other a mess of some sort of rough grassy thing.

Now I have wanted to get a rose bed going for years, and all attempts have failed, largely because I don’t really know what I am doing. I have a personality disorder known as autodidacticism, I think. It means I am ‘self-taught’, or rather that I prefer to find things out for myself rather than have some one tell me what to do. 

With gardening it means that I begin reading the right section of the books, tell myself I have got the idea and don’t bother to read the whole section. It’s the same with recipes. So sometimes things work out and sometime they don’t. You live and learn.

Now I’ve checked that a rose bed need to be well manured and have a sunny aspect. And I have a good bed in mind.  But it is already occupied. Both previous attempts to get a rose garden going went wrong – one was in the wrong place – the other was crowded out by hollyhocks and a flourishing yellow dogwood. So first I need to find the right place for the rose. The grassy thing can go on the compost. But I need to find a home for the dogwood. Oh, and there’s another shrub and two more roses that need moving before the eucalyptus gets cut back on Friday, they are right in the ‘firing line’. 

So job number one is to transplant the shrubs. Then to prepare the bed for the roses. That means digging it out, making sure it has good drainage, sifting the soil and adding fresh compost. I make my own from raw kitchen waste and chicken shit. 

By the time all that is done I am knackered, dirty, and hungry. And it’s 5pm and time to watch what Mr Raab has to say for himself from No.10. That turns out to be not much, and anyway pales into  insignificance when the figures show an horrendous increase the number of deaths the virus has caused in the last 24 hours in the UK and elsewhere.

And the Dahlias still aren’t in. Something else to do tomorrow. Meanwhile there is good news locally as Bristol University thinks it may be on the way to developing a vaccine for challenge the coronavirus

A quick bath and a cold beer and its time for a quick WhatsApp chat with a very tired grandchild No. 4 and her dad, and then to finish Haroun’s adventures. Like ‘The Wizard of Oz’ all the magic is resolved with a happy ending where all that was strange now seems familiar. (No spoilers.) The boys were bamboozling me with their technology skills this evening.  It is not that I don’t know about the different social media, it is the speed and skill with which they are able to switch between and link platforms that sends my head reeling.  How much easier and nicer to just pick up a book (but even I am not doing much of that these days). We all have a desperate desire (need?) to remain connected in some way.

As I write, The Gambler is running in the background on TV. I am not a Mark Wahlberg fan but I do like Michael K Williams (Omar Little in The Wire and Chalky White in Boardwalk Empire) and the soundtrack is terrific. Late tonight I shall probably finish watching Jean-Pierre Melville’s L’Armee des Ombres about the French Resistance, which I started on MUBI in the early hours of the morning. Or perhaps I shall catch up on the remaining episodes of Naughts and Crosses. We may be in lockdown, but spoiled for choices given the technology at our disposal. No wonder my sleep pattern is all to pot.

Mike J

Journalist, trainer, editor; storyteller; amateur historian.

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