What’s On?

What’s on the telly tonight? Good news, you can avoid Covid Crisis and indulge in Covid Comfort. Whether you need relaxation or intellectual stimulation, television can help.

University Challenge is back and I managed to answer quite a few questions, perhaps they are going easy on us in the first round, usually I can’t understand half the questions let alone answer more than three. It is obviously pre-recorded; nobody in a post Covid world is going to sit cosily in teams of four putting their heads together to decide on the answer.

There are many programmes we must enjoy before the pre-recorded stock runs out. Great British Sewing Bee is fabric fantasy, whether you like making clothes or wearing them. The winner, Clare Bradley, turned out to not only be brilliant at sewing, but is also a hospital respiratory consultant and since her win has been helping to save Covid patients. Could there be a post Covid sewing bee? No one allowed to touch the material or each other’s sewing machines, no hugging and congratulating. But perhaps they could do a glamourous slant on making facemasks and scrubs, as long as they only have one contestant at a time…https://metro.co.uk/2020/06/24/great-british-sewing-bee-2020-declares-winner-intense-finale-

All the cookery programmes will have the same problem in future, no one allowed to taste the food, no one will know what the food smells like with their masks on, no presenters hanging over the cook’s shoulders asking how they are getting on. I have never followed cookery shows as it’s too painful to see all that lovely food that we can’t eat. But in lockdown Cyberspouse has been watching them all. There are two main types of shows. Master chefs compete against each other to create beautiful banquets or delicious deserts that are works of art; pudding porn, perfect creations that are then mercilessly stabbed and rent asunder by the judges, who alone enjoy heavenly melting moments. Then there are the celebrities we have never heard of who can’t cook and are sent on an emotional roller coaster, baking perfect pastry or told they have to cook twenty octopuses ( or is it octopi ) for the guests at a posh hotel.

But some programmes are with us in real time. Nature and gardens brought into our living rooms by presenters on their home patch, alone, no irritating chatting with fellow presenters, giving the viewers their undivided attention. Gardener’s World brings calm and peace on Friday evenings. I know every day is the same as a carer in a pandemic, but I like to pretend it’s the end of the week. Monty Don wanders around his own large garden, with trailing dogs, digging and potting. But my favourite parts are viewers’ home videos, enthusiastically showing us an endless variety of inventive gardens of all shapes and sizes, bringing us all sorts of useful tips – and I thought I was obsessive about saving water… some don’t even have a balcony, let alone a garden; apartments filled with plants so you feel you are in a jungle. One young chap even had endlessly circulating water running down the wall into a fishpond.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006mw1h/clips

Drama has not been forgotten. Alan Bennet’s Talking Heads have been given a new production with a few new tales; monologues are perfect for social distancing and his characters move us as they gradually reveal their often surprising stories. There has also been a good selection of new short plays with actors having equipment delivered to their own homes, presumably with a few instructions. Filming themselves and conveniently often married to other actors, thus providing a cast of two.

Radio has always been a lifeline since our mothers’ and grandmothers’ day for housewives, mothers and anyone at home all day and I’m sure it was for many confined during Covid. Cyberspouse has listened to Woman’s Hour every day and BBC Radio 4 has three serialised books before lunch. But there is one drama that has let me down. I have been listening to the Archers ( the world’s longest running soap? )  on and off since I was in the womb and I thought Ambridge was a real place in a real county, Borsetshire. Imagine my confusion when farming life carried on as usual, The Bull still open for drinkers, while the rest of England was in total lockdown, everyone isolated. No one in Ambridge even mentioned there was a world wide  pandemic. Opinion was divided on Archers Facebook fan pages and among listeners emailing ‘Feedback’, some were glad of the escape from Covid while others like me thought it ridiculous. Eventually they ran out of recorded episodes and there was the first ever break in transmission, followed by a relaunch of a different type of soap. Endless monologues by any actors who knew how to work the recording equipment at home. For the first time, all those characters we love, or love to hate were expressing their own feelings, creepy or what. Soap operas by their nature are written in the third person, we have to wait till a character opens their heart to another character for insights and we like it that way.

http://www.thearchers.co.uk/

For fiction in real time drop in to my Friday Flash Fiction – tiny tales of ordinary folk in a pandemic.

Have your viewing and listening habits changed since the pandemic? What have your Covid comforts been?

Silly Saturday – Baz the Bad Blogger Bounces Back

Today I welcome back Baz the Bad Blogger who has been taking a blogging break. I first interviewed him in November 2018.

https://tidalscribe.wordpress.com/2018/11/03/silly-saturday-baz-the-bad-blogger/

‘Baz, may I ask you why you took such a long break?’

‘I was bored with blogging and I didn’t sell any of my novels.’

‘Did you find it hard to keep up with writing blogs?’

‘No, I just got bored with reading other people’s blogs.’

‘Do you think your followers will be happy to see you back?’

‘Well I only have one follower left, the others stopped following me after I made honest and helpful comments on their blogs.’

‘Oh dear, well I guess this is more of a relaunch. Do you have a new novel in the pipeline?’

‘Yes, the sequel to ‘I Zomboid’, my dystopian novel about a government taken over by zombies and androids. I am having trouble, as real life has become stranger than my fiction.’

‘That’s for sure, which leads me to my next question, how have you been coping with this pandemic and lockdown?’

‘Very well, I work from home anyway, or would if I had a job and when I do go out I find people are considerate and keep their distance.’

‘Are you looking forward to the pubs opening today?’

‘I was hoping to sink a few pints, but you have to book in advance and when I mentioned my name none of my locals had any vacancies.’

‘That’s bad luck, will you enjoy a drink in the comfort of ChezBaz?’

‘What?’

‘Um are you hoping to enjoy a drink at home this evening with er… do you live alone?’

‘No, we’re quite a household, me and the snakes.’

‘Have you decided on a title for your next novel?’

‘Panzombic.’

‘Finally, will your new blogs have a theme, perhaps one that fits in with the strange ideas in your novels?’

‘My garden through the year, everyone is interested in gardening lately, lots of bloggers post pictures of their garden. Baz’s Blooms it will be called and I am bound to get lots of new followers.’

Baz kindly shared some pictures of his garden…

Five Seconds of Fame

I keep listening out for the doorbell, I keep looking out of the window, but the street is empty. The postman, greengrocer, Amazon delivery and Co Op groceries have all been, but They never come. Another day when a long pole, with a microphone on one end and a television interviewer at the other end, has not appeared at my front door.

How do they choose all these citizens who keep showing up on the news and breakfast television? I am not talking about science experts, political commentators, journalists and doctors, but ordinary people who sit in their living rooms unashamed of their ghastly wallpaper and awful fashion sense. Out of millions and millions of us how do they get chosen to be interviewed for several minutes in a segment that will be repeated endlessly on the main news and on News 24.

If they happen to have recovered from Covid they obviously have a head start over the rest of us, but it’s not just people pondering on pandemics, I have always been ignored. Every general election, the long years of Brexit, no one knocks on my door or stops me while I’m out shopping for my opinion. Though I would flee in the opposite direction if I did see cameras; too windswept, wrong clothes for television…

But if a reporter did call on me at home they might not get away; all those years of stored up opinions.

 ‘Yes we need more lockdown not less, gatherings of more than two people forbidden, identity cards, everyone to stay inside their own postcodes, disposable BBQs should be banned, litter bugs should be tasered on the spot, private motor vehicles confiscated, air travel banned… it was so nice during the first few weeks of lockdown…. Perhaps you and the cameraman would like to buy one of my books, I just happen to have a box full… or buy all my books…

Maybe a little bribery would secure their release…

Everyone is filmed at home now so if you haven’t had the chance to appear on television you can always pretend. Facetime with your boring family could become one of Alan Bennet’s brilliant Talking Heads – which are perfect for isolated actors and have just been remade.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p08ftkkx

Or dust off your bookshelves and pontificate late at night on tomorrow’s newspaper headlines.

In the kitchen you can have your own masterchef celebrity banquet bake off.

‘What are you making?’

‘Bangers and Mash, it could all go horribly wrong… I’m just going to test the potatoes, okay, this is the moment when it could really go wrong, I could end up with third degree burns, I need to strain the potatoes now… make sure the camera lens doesn’t steam up…  yes the sausages all free range, they were running  around in a Hampshire field yesterday… oh oh is that the smoke alarm, I forgot to check the sausages…

Perhaps it would be better to stay in the garden. Gardening programmes are so popular now for peaceful healthy escapism and you can even send in videos of yourself and your delightful children giving a guided tour of your fantastic / unusual / beautiful / bountiful garden. Gardener’s World receives thousands of them, so you might not get chosen unless you have turned your bathroom into a tropical paradise, installed a waterfall in your living room, or turned a six foot sunless concrete square by your back door into the Garden of Eden.

Perhaps it’s best if I don’t film my garden; putting carefully cropped selected flowers on Instagram is my limit. Though if the people with poles do turn up tomorrow I could give them my views on new major projects injecting money into the economy; have all the motorways turned into cycle routes and gardens…

Have you ever invited television cameras into your home?

Friday Flash Fiction – Thursday Evening

Cassie looked at the atomic clock on the wall, one minute to eight. She waited till eight on the dot before opening the front door.  It it wasn’t for Doris next door she wouldn’t step outside, but it was the highlight of the elderly lady’s week, banging her saucepan and clapping for the NHS. Now it was the tenth week and there was talk on the news of this being the last, going out on a high. Their little road had never reached a high, not compared with the lively streets shown on the ten o’clock news and later on the local news. They had no singing, dancing or pipers piping, no string quartets or even any NHS staff to show their appreciation to. The children across the road would miss it; the chance to come out in their pyjamas, bang on saucepans and delay bedtime. Apart from that, next door the other side would chat cautiously across the fence to their other side, Doris would have her weekly catch up with the family the other side of her. Not every house came out; several parents of the children would wave to Doris, perhaps wander to the middle of the road to exchange a few words. Who would decide if their road should stop the ritual?

 Cassie stood on the front path, no saucepan, just a self conscious clapping, then relief as neighbours started to retreat indoors. Doris would come for a final chat before going in, standing the exact two metres apart; Cassie had even measured the distance across the flower bed and hedge to reassure her. Doris would then relay news gathered in the precious quarter of an hour. Cassie hardly knew any of her other neighbours; before Covid she had been busy at work or out exploring her new city and happy to close the front door on the world.

Apart from Doris, the only real people she saw were those who passed by while she was watering the front garden. She was still happy to work from home and that looked set to continue. The almost constant sunny dry weather had given a holiday feel to the whole experience, it made the garden a lot more work than she had expected, but she was still enjoying it thanks to Doris. Her poor neighbour was bereft at the closure of garden centres, not able to go for coffee and plant buying with her friends. Cassie had gone on line and found a nursery that delivered bedding plants; in quantities that required her to share them with Doris.

Doris admired Cassie’s front garden, it was almost restored to its former glory. Her new young neighbour had done a good job reclaiming it from the several years of neglect after Ken’s health declined. At least he didn’t live to see this virus business; he would have hated being called vulnerable and put into lockdown. Doris hated being in lockdown, but she had come to terms with her situation and she was lucky; lucky to be alive, lucky not to be sitting in a care home in pink fluffy slippers, like that clip she kept seeing of an old lady’s feet on every television report on care homes. Very lucky not to be in an intensive care unit, expected to use some electronic devise to communicate dying words to her family. Well her son and his lot wouldn’t be able to visit her in hospital anyway, not from the USA. He was very good, phoned her regularly, even offered to organise on line shopping, but she had told him no need. Cassie next door had got a vulnerable delivery slot for her with Sainsburys, they shared an organic fruit and veg box every week and her new neighbour even bought the Radio Times and newspapers when she went for her daily bike rides. It was a mystery what Cassie did at work, how she managed to do all that from home. Doris didn’t pry into her life, modern women didn’t need a chap, they were happy to live by themselves, though she apparently had a friend from work who happened to be a man, that she talked to every day on the internet.

They were lessening restrictions, but would that make much difference to herself Cassie wondered. She had no local friends to meet outside and socially distance from, not a group of two, let alone a group of six. James had suggested they could theoretically meet, but the ferry was still out of action, neither of them had a car and public transport was still to be avoided. He would safely remain on the other side of the water. But she still looked forward to talking to him. There was something missing from her life. She had relished living in a new part of the country, by herself; spending her free time as she pleased, wandering round galleries, going to the theatre or cinema, dropping into coffee shops, taking in the ambience, people watching. Now all that was taken away.

Silly Saturday – Quarantine Quests

Some of you may be coming out of isolation, some of us are still in confusion, but it is imperative that you have completed this list of ten goals to achieve before re-entering the world.
1. Share on Facebook, one a day, the covers of thirty books that have shaped your life. If you have not even read thirty books in your whole life you have time to read them now.


2. Share on Facebook, one a day, the forty music albums that had an amazing impact on your life. Think carefully about your street cred and decide what image you wish to project.
3. Train your dog or any pet to do amazing tricks and post them all over social media. Not got a pet? Now is the time to raise a puppy, cub or foal while you are at home all the time.

OIP[2]
4. Upcycle just about anything to plant plants in and post smug pictures to demonstrate your green credentials.

97139490_257481428943029_2136685146735116288_n
5. For the more ambitious, design and create a totally new garden with a wow factor that will mean you never need to go on holiday, or even out again. No garden, no problem. Create a hanging garden on your balcony. No balcony, no windows? Create a terrarium. But don’t forget to post the pictures.

DSCN0797
6. Create new dishes from scratch and share one a day – share on the internet, the good news is you don’t have to actually share the food, you can eat it all yourself.

81384908_452033992370187_5199869226835247104_n
7. Macro photography is ideally suited to your new insular life. All you need are a few flowers and endless patience so you get shots of bumble bees, butterflies and dragonflies that are superior to the millions of others on Instagram.

P1090946
8. If you haven’t tried them before, take up cycling and jogging and be sure to post regular accounts on Facebook of how far and fast you have been. You may even get a starring role on social media if your picture is taken by walkers complaining on the local Facebook group about the idiot cyclist or jogger who breathed too heavily when they sped past.


9. Laid up with a sprained ankle after number 8? No excuse for not taking up sewing. By now you should have made at least a thousand ineffective facemasks out of your old Tshirts or flowery sundress… And also created the longest rainbow/ hearts / We Love NHS banner in your road so you will be ready for number Ten.

92586213_1470849996410993_2577584722448220160_n
10. The only time you see another human will depend on which country you are living in. Perhaps you are out every evening clapping for something or someone. In the UK we are out at 8pm every Thursday clapping and banging saucepans for the NHS and anybody who is actually out working. But that is not enough. You must get your road or block of flats on the local news that night, or better still the ten o’clock national news. You will need one bag piper marching down the street signalling it is eight o’clock, a string quartet playing on the front lawn, lots of cute children glad to be delaying bed time and an out of work opera singer leading a rendition of ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone.’ Just make sure everyone is two metres apart to avoid a media storm of disapproval.

34670839_2115416058488173_7531615677732356096_n

Have you achieved any of these goals?

Two Metre Movement

Writers can still keep writing in isolation and quarantine, but what of photographers? No more traveling to local beauty spots, let alone visiting exotic locations, no more turning up at weddings and social gatherings to take formal and informal shots. One of our local award winning photographers has still been busy; Emily Endean has been using her daily exercise to walk to the homes of volunteering locals and snap them at their front door or in the garden – while staying at a safe distance on the pavement. A piece of everyman history, recording what we hope will be a unique year, not the new normal.

95336863_957581951326298_5883636807861534720_n
Gardens were already important to many of us, but have taken on a new significance in isolation for those of us lucky enough to have one. Are they a zoo compound or is your front garden your own little stage where all life takes place? We stand in it to chat safely to neighbours or passers by; on Thursday evenings we stand at 8pm to clap and bang saucepan lids for the NHS and all carers.

11
Hopefully a few or more flowers will brighten the daily walks of others. No one could have foreseen back in the autumn, when we were planting bulbs and wallflowers, how much time we would spend enjoying the splash of colour. With garden centres closing there has been dismay among gardeners looking forward to getting their bedding plants; we like to fill in gaps as spring flowers fade and plant up pots and patio tubs for the summer. Luckily our local greengrocer’s has been delivering plants; tidying the garden and planting is perfect for fresh air and exercise.

90956381_3046804642006450_6491822074103857152_n

I had my chance to take part in Emily’s project on Sunday. If you want to stroll around peeping at homes and seeing who lives there, visit Emily’s website here.

https://www.emilyendeanphotography.co.uk/post/the-two-metre-movement-people-in-quarantine

Silly Saturday In Isolation

Are you self isolating, or worse, are you stuck at home with your family for two weeks?
Here are handy hints for making the most of your time and discovering more about yourself … and your home.

10
1. Sort out your drawers, find the leaflets for those shows and concerts you wanted to see – in 2011. And if you have any 2020 leaflets you can throw them out as well – those great events you wanted to go to will all be cancelled.

75231744_1001714510173339_5683107890072649728_n
2. Catch up with the five years’ worth of that magazine you subscribed to.
3. Turn out your cupboards and sell everything on ebay.
4. Following on from Three, you now have plenty of space and some spare money. Go on line for some shopping therapy and buy lots more things you don’t need.
5. Making cup cakes seems to be popular with parents forced to look after their own children. Alas, you can’t invite anyone round to eat them.
6. Get out your old sewing machine and make yourself a Corona proof suit.
7. Do some gardening, at least the birds are still visiting you.

DSCN4704
8. Dust and rearrange your ornaments if you haven’t already sold them on ebay.
9. Have a teddy bears’ picnic in your front room; they are your only real friends now.

DSCN6485
10. If you are still bored, call out the fire brigade; at least you will have something to see in the empty street outside when you look out the window.
11. Follow on line Pilates and every motivational exercise programme you can find.
12. Catch up with the ironing or teach yourself how to iron.
13. Take up knitting or crochet and make face masks.
14. Go in the garage or shed and gather up all the old paint tins. Create a mural in the room of your choice.

53215287_361949637984393_2798061194936582144_n
15. Make your own youtube videos on fourteen ways to occupy yourself in isolation.

Friday Flash Fiction 840 – Grounded

‘You’re grounded.’
‘Wha…at, nobody gets grounded these days.’
Dean patted his pocket, he was quite happy to retreat to his bedroom away from the ageing love birds. They hadn’t got Sky yet, but with his new smart phone (bribery present from his mother) and the TV, he shouldn’t be too bored.
‘You are grounded till school starts tomorrow’ said Rob.
‘Suits me, there’s nothing to do around here anyway, nowhere to go in this godforsaken place, I’m happy to stay in my room.’
‘You won’t be in your room; grounded means on the ground, you can come out and work with me.’
‘Muu…m?’
‘I’ve got unpacking to do and dinner to get, I’ll make you both something really nice, what do you fancy?’
‘A takeway.’
‘I’ll do chicken the way you like it; now go out and get some fresh air, you’ll enjoy helping Rob.’

69174833_2861246683905103_4026481636127277056_o
Dean slouched out behind Rob and sneered at the vehicle parked in the driveway. ‘Green Man with Green Van’ was emblazoned on its side. He took the phone out of his pocket and started tapping in.
‘…and you can leave that at home, we’ve got work to do.’
‘Nobody leaves their phone at home. It’s my only contact with the outside world.’
‘The outside world can do without you for a few hours.’
‘Yeah, but I can’t do without the outside world, I didn’t want to come and live here.’
Rob laughed as he pulled out of the driveway. ‘I think you may have mentioned that already and I didn’t want you living with me, but neither of us has any choice. Try thinking of your mother for a change, she’s very happy to get away from the other place.’
‘She married you just so she could live in Woodycopse? I don’t think.’
‘You’ll be glad she married me one day. Stick it out here for a couple of years then you can go out into the world without worrying about your mother, she’ll have me to look after her.’
‘She’s quite capable of looking after herself.’
‘I know, but she deserves more than that. I don’t expect you to understand, just don’t spoil all this for her.’

DSCN6661

‘Oh hello Kate, yes we’re back, had a wonderful time, a week of sheer bliss, yes and that as well, no complaints in that department. Anyway, it’s true what they say about Venice.
Dean? Yes, he’s fine, gone out with Rob, they really get on well, I wouldn’t be surprised if Rob doesn’t take him on in the business in a few years time. I think he would have liked a son of his own… at my age? Yes of course it’s biologically possible, but it wouldn’t be fair on Dean, he’s still my baby… he starts at the new school tomorrow, once he meets some kids his own age… No I’m looking forward to my new life, imagine me living in Woodycopse, bit of a change from Fenbridge… Yes, once we’ve settled in you must come down and stay. Right, I’d better get on with dinner, Dean especially requested his favourite chicken dish, a week of his granny’s cooking, he’s probably starving.’

45477078_2012446678822505_8757027339713380352_n

The short drive to the house on the edge of the village was spent in silence, except for exaggerated sighs from Dean. Without ceremony Rob parked the van, jumped out, opened the back doors, beckoned to Dean and handed him a cluster of wooden handles with strange metallic attachments.
‘What the hell am I supposed to do with these?’
‘You’ll soon find out, it’s all clearing today, so you can’t do much harm.’
‘What a jungle.’
‘In a few weeks you won’t recognise it, do you want to see the plans?’
‘Nope.’
‘Suit yourself.’

P1060501

Dean quite enjoyed the hacking and chopping, though he was careful not to show it, but when he felt blisters coming up on his palms any enthusiasm quickly evaporated.
‘Can we stop now?’
‘No, we need to break the back of the work today, so it will be easier when we come after school tomorrow.’
‘Wha…at, I’m not your slave and you can’t make me do it, you’re not my Dad.’
‘I wondered how long before you came out with that cliché. You’re not my son thank goodness, just a reminder of why I never wanted children.’
‘At least you won’t want to adopt me, but why didn’t you want kids?’
‘I’m too selfish or didn’t want to inflict another teenager like me on the world?’
‘What were you like?’
‘Let’s just say my mother strongly suggested I join the army. By the time I realised that was a mistake, it was too late.’
‘Gran and Mum say Dad loved the army, never wanted to do anything else.’
‘I know, he was a great bloke and I’ve never pretended to your mother that I could replace him. Marrying me is better for your mother than being alone and that is all I can expect. And the least we can do for her is pretend we get along, perhaps one day we will…’

blogger-recognition-2019

Friday Flash Fiction – 270 – Autumnwatch

Autumn Compost Watch – Sponsored by Greensleaves Garden centres and introduced by Tim Timber

 Last week we set up our new compost corner and disguised the cameras from wily worms and agitated ants. Now it’s time for our first look at the insect hotel constructed from broken branches and twisted twigs and even more exciting, we lift the lid on the compost bin, replete with vegetable peelings, weeds, autumn leaves, egg shells, egg cartons and toilet roll tubes.

33500818_2101460066550439_5825106909107060736_o

At Twig Savoy let’s start at the ground floor and watch the workers; the ants are already making themselves at home and who is this? The heavy rainfall of last week has made this corner a dark and damp haven for local frogs. Let’s talk to our clever compost connoisseur Connor. What are we expecting to see when we lift the round green plastic lid off the de-luxe Greensleaves compost bin?

Well Tim, I must stress that we did not put a single creature here ourselves and we have not lifted the lid even for a peek.

Oh this is fantastic, wriggling red worms, hundreds of them, clinging inside the lid, annoyed at being disturbed.

Yes Tim, while we’re tucked up in our centrally heated homes this winter these worms will be chomping their way through the deliciously slimy mass to make compost for our spring bedding. I estimate there are more worms here than people in this town.

44039086_2001686330131742_8816680067473080320_n

Thanks Connor and viewers, don’t forget to join us next week when we’ll be talking about sweeping up autumn leaves and if you can’t wait till then, listen to our series of podcasts on slugs.

sunshine-blogger

 

Friday Flash Fiction 369 – Little Weed

sunshine-blogger 

LITTLE WEED, THE LONG YEARS OF ABUSE

The old gardener’s hands trembled as he picked up the newspaper from the door mat. He slipped out to his potting shed as he heard Mrs. Gardener coming down the stairs.

He laid the paper on the old bench, sunlight barely filtered through the cobwebbed windows, but it was enough to read the main article.

Detectives from Operation Motherwatch are investigating claims that Little Weed was abused for years by one or more flowerpot men. The identity of the flowerpot men is not known, but they have been named locally as Bill and Ben.

The shock allegations follow on from last week’s claims that Looby Loo was abused by both Andy Pandy and Teddy. If Little Weed’s claims are true it will be the first time a plant has made such a serious allegation.

dscn4689.jpg

The gardener had never believed people who said they did not know what was going on, now he had to come to terms with the fact that he knew nothing about what was going on at the bottom of his own garden. But surely Bill and Ben were innocent, perhaps it was some other flowerpot men… Little Weed could be vindictive, she was not the shrinking violet people thought. If only he knew where she was now. It was all Alan Titchmarsh’s fault. The Gardener had come back from recording Gardeners’ Question Time to discover his wife had arranged for Titchmarsh to do a garden makeover for his television programme. If the camera crew were hoping to capture the look of surprise on The Gardener’s face they succeeded, only the potting shed remained. Gone were the greenhouse, vegetable beds, earthenware pots; all replaced by decking. And gone too was Little Weed. Mrs. Gardener was always jealous of the plant, said he talked to her more than his own wife… perhaps that was true… she was no ordinary weed, the first weed to appear on BBC Television and there had been none like her since… She was tough, a survivor, he was thankful she was still alive, but why now, why such allegations now, after all this time? And if it was true, was it Bill or was it Ben?

21