A sceptic's take on being human – or should that be virtuous?
The Potwell Inn 2019 chilli quest
So here are this season’s hopefuls in order of their capacity to create fear, or (looking on the bright side) to cure minor infestations of intestinal worms. As I mentioned the other day, we’ve dropped Pearls and Jalapenos off the list because even in last year’s sunshine they didn’t get all that hot.
Hungarian Hot Wax – 1,500 – 15,000 SHU
F1 Apache – 70,000 – 80,000 SHU
F1 Romital – 100,000 – 150,000 SHU
Habanero – 100,000 – 350,000 SHU
Bhut Jolokia – 1,000,000+ SHU
This, naturally, is a high risk strategy because knowing as little as I do about growing chillies the deficiency in heat could be down to a corresponding deficiency in the allotmenteer and next season could lead to heat and generosity on an epic scale as I’ll need to give them all away. All I know is that I was quite comfortable eating the F1 Apaches straight off the plants. But chillies seem to have become a bit of a man thing with its own secret lore and language, a bit like carp fishing I suppose. I don’t doubt that there are secret chilli clubs where seed is exchanged under vows of secrecy and feed is prepared on the night of the full moon using bats’ blood and Cornish seaweed – only Cornish will do it, they say.
I have not yet told Madame about my plan and since she only reads this blog infrequently I’ll wait for the loud “WHAT???” Meanwhile news from an old friend in Tasmania who says he’s pretty sure they’ve suffered the hottest weather since records began. The photo he sent showed his house surrounded by smoke from bush fires and although he says they’re in no danger it must be a worry. He asked if it was making news here in the UK? Well yes it is, but I’m not sure it’s being connected to climate change. This week we’ve heard about unprecedented ice melt in Greenland – am I worried? I most certainly am, almost as worried as I am about the world leaders who are doing nothing about it. Do they imagine their wealth will go on protecting them when the crops fail and the mass migrations away from the flooded coasts take place?
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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