A sceptic's take on being human – or should that be virtuous?
Bit of a rough night!
We were certainly kept awake last night – the wind was blowing a hoolie from the North East and there were frequent wintry showers of hail and sleet hammering on the roof – and I spent a lot of time enjoying the fact that I was lying in bed and not out there on a ferry somewhere in those big seas.
Lots of time for reflection then, not least because we know that the temperature on the allotment has dropped low enough to finish off the beans, the tomatoes and the last cucumber. Such chillies as are left will have to be ripened indoors now. I always find the autumn a sombre time anyway, and when the allotment is cleared it always seems like a sad place.
However, we talked about it as the sun rose outside and we realized we’ve got more in the ground and growing than ever before at this time of year. Brassicas from Cima di Rapa (turnip tops with attitude) to Brussels Sprouts, carrots, parsnips, swedes, Swiss Chard, Spinach, garlic (5 varieties) and shallots. Onion sets are good to go, Broad Beans and overwintering peas are about to be sown. The cupboards and the freezer are full and the wine is about to be bottled. The good times are just around the corner!
I've spent my life doing a lot of things, all of them interesting and many of them great fun.
When most people see my CV they probably think I'm making things up because it includes being a rather bad welder and engineering dogsbody, a potter, a groundsman and bus driver. I taught in a prison and in one of those ghastly old mental institutions as an art therapist and I spent ten years as a community artist. I was one of the founding members of Spike Island, which began life as Artspace Bristol. ! wrote a column for Bristol Evening Post (I got sacked three times, in which I take some pride) and I worked in local and network radio and then finally became an Anglican parish priest for 25 years, retiring at 68 when I realised that the institutional church and me were on different paths.
What interests me? It would be easier to list what doesn't, but I love cooking and baking with our home grown ingredients. I'm fascinated by botany and wildlife in general, and botanical illustration. We have a camper van that takes us to the wild places, we love walking, especially in the hills, and we take too many photographs.
But what really animates me is the question "what does it mean to be human?". I've spent my life exploring it in every possible way and the answer is ..... well, today it's sitting in the van in the rain and looking across Ramsey Sound towards Ramsey Island. But it might as easily be digging potatoes or making pickle, singing or finding an orchid or just sitting. But it sure as hell doesn't mean getting a promotion, beasting your co-workers or being obsequious to power, which ensured that my rise to greatness in the Church of England flatlined 30 years ago after about 2 days. But I'm still here and still searching for that elusive sweet spot, and I don't have to please anyone any more.
Over the last 50 or so years we've had a succession of gardens, some more like wildernesses when we were both working full-time, but now we're back in the game with our two allotments in Bath.
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