A sceptic's take on being human – or should that be virtuous?
Winter Hat / Summer Hat
Since it’s Good Friday I decided to dig my summer hat out of the box and wear it to the allotment for the ceremonial planting of the potatoes. The winter hat is only a couple of years old and so soaked in waterproofing oil it’s shiny (but very waterproof). My summer hat is getting on for twenty years old and shows it. In fact it looks as if it’s been through at least two autopsies and was always stitched up afterwards by somebody on work experience. It’s been with me on 200 miles of the Camino, countless walks and field trips and on the allotment ever since, and consequently it’s so knackered people sometimes stare. But I’m avoiding getting a new one because they’re so prodigiously expensive and because they look pretentious until they’ve been through a few adventures and misadventures. The manufacturers say it’s got a lifetime guarantee but that’s only for manufacturing faults – not sweat or collisions whilst ducking under barbed wire. It’s even got a secret pocket in which I once carried a couple of emergency tea bags over the Aubrac Hills in France.
Anyway, hat firmly pulled over head, we set out to plant the spuds on the allotment and apart from broken backs and painful knees we got them in after only one brief altercation with Madame; covered them up and celebrated with a couple of lagers when we got home. Our dispute -as always – was over the amount of measuring required to plant a potato. I’m a full data man who prefers to measure and calculate to get the holes in precisely the correct spacing whilst she is of the chuck it anywhere persuasion. On this occasion precision won – which is rare enough to warrant a mention.
Anyway, here are some photos of the allotment today.
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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