DAY 100+1: MON 22 June

The day I had promised myself in the garden with no diary entry

Today I washed the face of Jane Austen then smeared it with sanitiser. 

In all my 10 years of weekly litter-picking in the the Back Lane I have never found any money, until today. Dog shit bags aplenty, empty booze bottles and cans (occasionally filled with urine), drug detritus and discarded prescriptions, three pregnancy tests over the space of 10 days, fag packets end cigarette ends galore, and sweet wrappers and fast food cartons too may to count – but never any money. The tenner, possibly blown in by the wind, will be put to good use.

Lots of broken glass today – nothing freshly broken, but the torrential rain has unearthed breakages from yesteryear – and the brambles have shot out long prickly arms to catch the sun and the legs of passers-by. My trusty secateurs have wrecked their ambitions. There are plenty of blackberries in the vicinity, and they look as if they will ripen even earlier this year.

I had promised myself day of doing nothing in the garden, so I set out an easy chair and opened a parasol and placed two books easy to hand, Mark Diacono’s A Taste of the Unexpected – about how to grow unusual fruits, herbs, nuts, spices and vegetables, and Citizen Clem, John Bew’s heavy duty biography. I did not bring out my laptop with the bootleg edition of John Bolton’s White House memoire, because I did not trust myself not to go online or start writing up another diary entry. As it happens I got to read two pages of the Diacono book, and that was all.

First off the chicken let it be known that they wanted to be out in the sun too, and I had promised to set uo another perch for them to see the ‘upper’ garden. That done I remembered I had to fix a faulty ballcock (don’t ask), And I realised that I was supposed to cut the grass today, and while doing that I remembered I had to tend to my asparagus bed, and plant out some sweet potatoes, and dig out and sieve the good earth from an old compost heap. And the next thing I knew the day was almost gone.

A call from an old friend told me it was time to take action to help with an urgent asylum claim. And when that was done it was 8pm and I needed to eat. I heated up some leftovers and switched on the TV. I was immediately caught up in David Olusoga’s Black and British: A forgotten history, swiftly followed by Samira Ahmed’s The Art of Persia, and then a very different step back in time with the Storyville documentary on The Black Panthers. It is about a period I remember well, when I became radicalised by the story of the Soledad Brothers and the writings of Huey Newton, Stokely Carmichael and Angela Davis. Don’t tell me TV is not educational. There’s something to learn everyday.

And now look what I’ve done. Written another entry. Time to fill a bowl with ice cream and switch to MUBI to finish Ida Lupino’s devilish noir The Hitchhiker, from 70 years ago. One the first box office successes directed by a woman.

Mike J

Journalist, trainer, editor; storyteller; amateur historian.

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