The Idler Magazine

A Country Diary – 34

Posted in Tom Hodgkinson’s Country Diary on 21 November 2005

21 November 2005

WE’VE HAD SOME deliciously cold and frosty mornings, lately. It’s been like a Ready Brek ad, walking Arthur up to the well by the church in the mornings where the school bus picks him up. I think I’m supposed to bring the geraniums indoors now but I keep forgetting. On the vegetable front, the parsnips are supposed to be benifit from a nice frost, flavour-wise, but I am worrying about everything else. Two of the broccoli plants have wilted dramatically; why I have no idea. The brussel sprouts have shown no sign of growth latesly and the kale are looking decidedly spindly. Also, there is no evidence that the broad bean seeds have germinated, nor, come to that the Hugairan Grazing Rye seeds. I have gone through such crises before and thing is have turned out all right after all, but it’s easy to lose heart.

MORE AGONISING about the Land Rover idea. I took it for a spin, and it drove fine, although I was told that its top speed is 50 mph, which limits its usefulness as far as long drives go. So I think that a grand is too much to pay and that five hundred quid would be a more realistic price, but whether I have the courage to play Land Rover hard ball with the local garage is another question. Really I should sell the van and buy a little five hundred quid Golf or something like that. That would be the sensible option.

I HAVE FINALLY refilled the bird feeder outside the kitchen window, and it’s made me wonder why I left it so long. At first I thought that perhaps the birds had disappeared, flown away, but the crowds of tits, robins, chaffinches and starlings that have swamped it since the refilling suggests that they were sat in the hedges, shivering and foodless. Apart from the obvious pleasure in helping the things to stay alive, watching the birds flit around the feeder greatly improves the experience of washing-up. I am trying to develop an existential philosophy around washing-up, whereby it turns from a chore into something that you enjoy. After all, there is actually nothing intrinsically unpleasant about washing-up, the feeling of warm mater on the hands, moving objects from one place to another. It seems that we have conditioned ourslves not to enjoy it, perhaps because the attitude of not-enjoying improves dishwasher sales. And status-wise, being a plongeur is the lowest job you can do, as George Orwell discovered. But doing your own washing up while watching the birds outside is different. Perhaps you can take pride in the washing up, and do the drying up as well, and even the putting away, not finishing until everything is left sparkling and neatly in place. Also, when washing up, you are looking after yourself and as there is no real reason why washing up should rank below, for example, writing, in the scale of desirable activities, then I propose we embrace it.

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