I do realise that I spend a lot of time fulminating. I freely admit that. I can be a stroppy bugger. But now and again, I surprise you all. You go, ‘He’s not that curmudgeonly, you know?’
Well, I am. Now and then. I get irritated by people, or their stupidity, lack of insight, and just not getting it.
The latest idiot in my sights is a Daisy Goodwin. Given the topic I’m about to come onto, that’s a great given name.
She had a real pop at the whole concept of gardening. She quoted Joan Bakewell (who has also annoyed me at times), describing gardening as ‘housework outdoors.’
I no longer have a garden. This is just as well, since I no longer have the bodily resources to do justice to gardening. But gardening saved my sanity. Well, stopped me completely losing it.
I have no problem at all with people saying, ‘I hate gardening.’ That’s fine. I did for a long time too. But I never sneered at people who liked it. I didn’t get it but I could see why others might. The micrometre accurate flowerbed edges. The perfectly striped lawns. Immaculately pruned shrubs. I didn’t get it, but there are worse things in life to obsess about.
Later, I got gardening. I adored it. This time of year, I’d be in the garden as it got light, couple of hours, shower, go to work, do a full day, back home, garden till dusk. Day after day.
Ms Goodwin contends that there’s no point since all you get is a few tomatoes that ‘you can buy for a quid.’ She misses the point totally.
Gardening is not just about what you get out. It’s about what you put in. Gardening is one of the most therapeutic activities in the world. I started when I was in the deepest depths of depression. I don’t know why I started. I just did.
Two things. One, you cannot do a big chunk of gardening, and look at what you have done, and still feel totally down. You can’t.
Second. You cannot garden while angry. You may start off angry, then you go, ‘I’m going to damage something here, and it’s not the plant’s fault.’ The sheer physical effort will calm you, the sort of Zen thing about what you want to grow, the two are very important. Unbelievably important. For somebody in my frame of mind at the time, invaluable. It helped rescue me.
I can be snidey, sneery. I can. I hope it’s always leavened with humour.
But gardening as outdoor housework? You have to be a dimwit to believe that. I’ve met Ms Bakewell. She’s no dimwit. She was striving for humorous effect.
It may be Ms Goodwin is not a dimwit. I’m not too sure about that.