This is taken from a series of photos taken by my sis at a family gathering last weekend.
We were in the woods behind the house, sitting on what’s left of a tree that came down in the ’87 hurricane.
Yup. This hurricane.
I love the fact that Michael Fish was so sure of himself, and the meteorological forecasting prowess of the British Broadcasting Corporation, he totally unnecessarily drew attention to the fact that the woman had called at all, simply in order to scoff at her suggestion that a hurricane was on the way.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but I make that the single most epic fail of the entire 1980s.
This is Prussia Cove – part of a private family estate on the south coast of Cornwall, named after the 18th century smuggler John Carter who lived and traded there. (History records that he called himself the King of Prussia when playing toy soldiers with his brother Harry.)
We used to head there for our family holidays some twenty-five years ago. We stayed in one of the Coastguard Cottages (below), a listed terrace of seven cottages built by the government in 1826 in an attempt to suppress smuggling in the area, as a result of which they have pretty much the best sea-view the architects could muster.
Each year we’d fill a scrapbook with pictures, postcards, and the memory of each day documented in our respective scrawls. Memories of foraging for cowrie shells amidst the shingle, and chasing gobies around the rock pools; building fortifications in the sand and trying to turn back the tide on the nearby Kennegy Sand; trawling for mackerel in one of my dad’s first boats, Ariadne; then cooking up the catch over a huge fire made of driftwood, singing songs like this one to a chorus of fast-made-friends and extended family.
The prospect of taking our little ones down there for a week has me smiling like a seven-year-old. Of all the family holidays, those were my favourites. I’m not sure if it’s how I’ve distilled those memories over the years, but the place has taken on a timeless quality.
When I daydream about one day outrunning the rat race, this is the corner of our green and pleasant land I plan to flee to, to live out my days trawling for mackerel, growing fresh vegetables, and writing pages and pages of meandering and inconsequent prose.
Or, at the very least, keeping up the old scrapbook.
I started reading 2000AD well over twenty years ago – every week I used to fish the latest issue out of the magazine-filled bin behind John Menzies at Godalming Station, along with a copy of Angler’s Mail and, on a good week, an unsullied edition of Club International.
A lot of the dubious types I swim with these days seem to have grown up with the Galaxy’s Greatest Comic™, but I’m not so sure how many copies are flying off the shelves (or, failing that, out of the bins) these days.
Nice to see that whoever’s responsible for their commercial development seems to be keeping pace though; maybe it’s about time I renewed my subscription.
Major kudos to Annie Ok for calling the augmented reality thing a good few months back. She’s turning out to be the kind of muse/guru no creative marketing agency should be without.
Likewise to the team at work who put this together. Our first instincts on how to use this technology seem to have been the right ones, and we’re pretty excited about trying some new stuff with our next AR gig, which happens to be just around the corner.
Idea IS the format afficianados (of which there are about three, including me) will recall a golden age, back in 2007, when all I really blogged about was our garden. That, and periodically talking shit about marketing. (And then, for some inexplicable reason, writing it down.)
My first shed.
I even made a few short films, comprising the Hackney Garden series; an occasional digest I hope to resurrect this summer, if only to inflict some more rambling and ill-informed commentary through the uniquely unflattering prism of video.
Some other bricks.
The upside of my documentary efforts is that you can still revisit the grim patch of grassy wasteland we inherited back in March 2007. And that’s not the kind of wasteland you snare stray dogs on. I’m talking about the kind of barren moral and metaphysical wilderness unto which the Lord’s own progeny condemned himself in the act of washing away the sins of all mankind. Somewhere you could drop in on tomorrow and end up kicking your heels with the still-twitching corpse of T.S. Eliot, while Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek stole your car and burned your house down.
The late T.S. Eliot. And some bricks
Indeed, a quick look back through the leafy annals bears pictorial testimony to so many long weekends spent digging up bricks, more bricks, some other bricks, and some carrier bags, containing Polish workmen’s faeces.
We don’t really talk about the faeces so much any more; the memory has been all but expunged, even if the distinctive aroma of immaculately preserved Eastern European excrement lingers on.
I’ve often reflected on the fact that these rugged and regular contractors, even in the very act of installing working water-closets into our newly re-developed domecile, must have bagged, tagged and buried their feculence knowing that the kind of person stupid enough to try and transform this barren backyard into their own arboreal Xanadu would also surely be the kind of person who deserves to end up prostrate on their hands and knees clawing their fingers through somebody else’s shit. How right they were.
Some of these men are of Polish descent, but none of them have ever shat in a carrier bag and buried it in our garden. I think.
Then, at some point – I don’t recall exactly when – I actually started to do some gardening. I mean real gardening, involving growing things that are green, and maybe even eating them, and the fact that they have been grown in shit not necessarily being a bad thing, but sometimes even a good thing, to the extent that I would actually go out and buy new shit, the more expensive the better, to help them grow.
Our vegetable patch (2008), covered in sticks and netting and shit designed to make cats stay the fuck out of it.
The reality, as I’ve discovered first hand, is that gardening is mostly about shit.
Not just shit-shit. I mean all that other shit, the shit you go and buy at B&Q, once you realise the privately owned garden centre up the road has a price point that would loosen Prince Charles’ own pre-eminent rectum. Shit with handles, and metal bits, and plastic attachments that cost more than the thing you’re subsequently unable to attach them to.
Then there’s all the shit you have to somehow get rid of. Not shit-shit, that would be easy, you could just chuck it down the khasi. I’m talking about the shit you can’t flush, or burn, or leave in a bin-bag out front, because if you do the bin-men won’t take it – or anything else – for the next six months. The shit you end up carting all the way to the dump by the bucketload, in order to have it disposed of by trained professionals, men who know their shit from their shit, and have the coolest fucking stack system you’ve ever seen.
Which is why, when you look at the photo below, and I tell you that I spent this weekend digging out that new bed at the front, and planted two drills of peas in it, along with all the different varieties of lettuce, spinach, cabbage and broccoli I’ve got growing up the back there, you’ll probably think ‘meh, sure, fine, that’s all well and good, but it looks, well, kinda… shit.’
And you’re right. But it’s my shit. And one day my shit’s going to come out smelling of roses.
(Sorry? What’s that? You want more bricks? Oh go on then.)