Thursday, 28 July 2011

Talk Sport!

For the past ten days I have heard a wealth of information about sport, predominantly football. I have heard it in the garden, in the kitchen, in the bathroom. It has enveloped me in waves of enthusiasm, regret, excitement, speculation and sometimes quite raw and painful emotion.
This is because the outside paintwork of the house is being decorated - very carefully and well-decorated by one and sometimes two men.
The radio is plugged in before the paint-brushes are lifted, and because doors and windows are open I can hear too.
So, probably, can some of the neighbours.

Because they are such good workmen I do not complain about the incessant sporting babble, but when they are sitting in the van eating their lunch I switch off the paint-spattered radio. They minute they return it is switched on again.
I walk past on my way down the garden and turn down the volume a few notches. When they descend the ladders the volume is increased again.

Am I a wimp?
My mother would not have permitted such intrusion, but, thinking about it, workmen would hardly have had radios in her day.
So - I listen on.
I listen to their (shouted) conversation as well. I can't avoid it. They have to shout because of the volume of the radio. Their talk is not necessarily connected to the topic on the radio, which might be about some other sport, but is exclusively about football.
From early morning to mid afternoon they talk about football; the strategies, the merits of different teams, and what they would do if they were in charge of said teams.They discuss the failings and short-coming of players and managers. They reminisce about games in the past and voice their hopes for games in the future.

I am not unfamiliar with obsessive masculine behaviours. As the mother of sons I often felt excluded from a single-minded world. My sons, when small, worked their way through various obsessive phases - dinosaurs, robots, deep-sea life, Vikings.
I remember speculative discussions such as, 'If Tyrannosaurus Rex was alive today do you think he would be able to drive a digger?' (And if not, why not. Give three clear reasons.)
These obsessions were intense but short-lived, and they never involved sport.
Thank goodness!

Playing sports is an excellent idea for those with the inclination. (However, I spent lacrosse lessons lurking in the shrubbery, hating the competitive element of compulsory school sports.)
But listening to talk about sport, endlessly and repetitively, is becoming very, very wearing, and I cannot imagine that any woman would want, or be able to sustain this level of exclusivity. Some other interest or topic would surely crop up after ten minutes or so?

I'm also running out of tea-bags.

Monday, 11 July 2011

Rhubarb is Better Than Palm Trees.

'Zhoen' has just shown her tiny garden, so I'll show mine.
This is a tiny area of my garden, but a most valuable one. I can step out of the back door and pick loganberries, strawberries, fresh herbs, raspberries, and soon, tomatoes. I have a productive blueberry bush in a pot, which doesn't show here. But best of all, I can pull a few sticks of rhubarb.
I love rhubarb, and the place where it grows used to house a Chusan Palm.

The rest of my garden is complicated and labour-intensive. I like to grow large, spectacular things, and the Chusan Palm was one of them. I was very pleased with it until I realised it was beginning to peer in at the kichen window, blocking the light.
A friend up the road was making a Mediterranean type garden and needed a large feature plant, so I told her that if she could dig out the palm she could have it. (How very convenient for us both!)
She came, with her heavy gang, one of whom still has not quite recovered, and within an couple of hours the palm tree was safely bedded in up the road. (I had consulted various gardening resources which stated that it was unlikely that this this could be done, but it can, if you take a large enough root ball. The palm is still flourishing, two years on.)
I filled the resultant large hole with compost and a crown of rhubarb.
Two years on - Rhubarb Fool, Rhubarb Tart, Rhubarb and Loganberry Crumble.

This little space wouldn't do for a family, but it is more than enough for me and my guests. Next year I'll do more with salad crops in grow bags, and I'll plant more herbs in the crevices of the paving, but I won't need to increase the space, which is about two metres square.