A sceptic's take on being human – or should that be virtuous?
How can a patch of earth be so beautiful?
It was a day for catching up with old friends and big hugs for the family, so we were up at the plot early to check that the greenhouse, the hot bed and the coldframes were ready for another unseasonably hot day. Our children may not appreciate the analogy but seeing the sun shining on the allotment, watching seedlings develop and feeling the wamth of the earth is not a million miles away from the sheer pleasure of being loved – for no discernable reason – by your children and grandchildren. Our youngest said to us once, after a day out with his first nephew, “It’s really strange the way they look at you, decide you’re OK and just love you”.
So that was today really. Lunch at Rosemarino’s our favourite Italian café/restaurant in Bristol where our youngest once worked as a chef and with old friends we’ve known for years and travelled together with. I had a lovely lamb ragu with pasta and we shared a bottle of cheap Italian white while we ate and talked. Later, after crossing the city, big hugs and cuddles with the grandchildren and their Aussie Mum who’s brought so much to our expanding family. Oh and the fact that everything just seems to be working. Pride, I know, comes before a fall – but stuff it – the Potwell Inn is the place to be – “point” as Whacker Allan my old French teacher used to say. He was a sadist but he’d lived in Paris which was pretty exciting. Tomorrow the weather turns and we shall be gloomy again but today we are filled with delight.
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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