Wednesday 29 April 2020

To rest my eyes in shades of green

For mr bungalow bill, because he asked for photos of the garden.
April has been dry and cold, with just a few sunny days, here in the north of north. But the garden is bursting with life within its two hundred year old walls, the birds are getting smoochy, the days are getting longer.
Here you go:

Never fruited, just a wonder that it lives here, clinging to the sunny wall.

apple blossom

the daffodil meadow, with the orchard in the distance
There's more than a thousand daffodil bulbs in that meadow - I know, I planted them myself
tulips and bluebells
 This wall is getting on for 8 foot high, enclosing the former kitchen garden for the manse. Too expensive to build such a dry-stone dyke now, but 220 years ago, it was a different matter.
tulips in the yellow border

bluebells and dandelions around an urn in the walled kitchen garden 

So that's lots of spring stuff - now I've sorted out how to post the photos the right way up, I'll put up some photos of the trees when they are in leaf. - mrs ishmael

Sunday 26 April 2020

The Sunday Ishmael 26/04/2020

There was a massive outbreak of the Ebola virus in West Africa, causing thousands of deaths, devastating fragile healthcare systems and damaging the economies of countries, some of which were still recovering from civil war. At the peak of the epidemic, in autumn 2014, infections were doubling every few weeks.
Some here have wondered, in these pages, what mr ishmael would have made of our current Coronacrisis - the following essay may give you a clue or two:

Good evening and welcome to the SixaClock News from the PBC, with me, Huw Welshman, 

and the top story tonight is this fucking plague that's heading our way, it'll get us all if they don't get their fingers out, 

 be a fucking case of Death's own chariot, rolling all over us and never fucking mind a Star in a reasonably-priced car, look you, isn't it.  But to bring us up to date  we are joined from outside a hospital somewhere by our End of the World correspondent, Jayne Tits, Jayne, what can you tell us?

Yes, and thank you, Huw and what I can tell you is that the prime minister has just left a meeting of COMA, the govament's Special Panic Committee and outside Number Ten he had this to say

Unelected Prime Minister, David Cameron
Good evening ladeezangennulmen and welcome to another edition of the Post-COMA statement show, altogether now, Ni-i-i-ice to Vote For Me, To Vote for me Nice,  that's right, you look like a wunnerful audience and, if I may, I'd just like to make a short announcement about this Ebola thing and basically, well, ladeezangennulmen, I haven't a fucking clue, I mean whadoo I know about fucking  diseases, I'm a fucking song and dance man, conferences, quiz shows, houseacommons, that's me, good for a laugh, 

birra knockabout with the other acts, 
but fucking diseases, no, definitely not, ladeezangennulmen, shit like this, you mean?

no way, Jose, as we say in Chipping Sodom.

No that's for a speciality act, maybe an animal act, The Fabulous Four Horsemen, 
 but not me.

Time for the first act, anyway, and I'm proud to introduce a man who calls himself The Incredible Foreign Seckatry, you and I know him  - and lets give him a great COMA round-of-applause -  as the late Philip Hammond

The Right Honourable Philip Hammond, MP, PC 
doing his impression of not only being in charge of the Ebola outbreak but of being alive.

Give him a big hand, ladeezangennulmen, diddeneedowell?
Not every day we see an act like Philip's  but moving along we have that great stand-up comedian and Defence Seckatry,  Mr M-i-i-i-i-i-i-key Fallon

KBO, chaps, Keep Buggering On

And in our current crisis, can I caution all Ishmaelites not to follow the advice of President Donald, who can't be arsed to attend his own news briefings, and please refrain from injecting disinfectant. T'internet tells us that Covid 19 was manufactured in Wuhan City’s Biosafety Level (BSL) 4 facility, as a part of China's military strategy - maintaining the balance of power with the USofA's war machine. Here's a link to an interesting documentary about it.
The interest is in the stone mad commentators, who seem to be building the case for World War Three and to persuade the "free" world that it is okay for America to get mediaeval on China's ass. Here's mr ishmael's take on a tricky situation in 2014:

RAF Tornado jets

today were not poised to fly over China in a show of solidarity with protesters in Hong Kong. 
Lord Chris Fatso Of BBC Corruption, is not poised to enter the fray on behalf of   his former subjects, 
  I say, do I get any money for doing this?

nor are members of COBRA 
urgently carrying their folders into Downing Street;  laughable Defence Seckatry,
 Micky Spiv Fallon,  is not blowharding his stupid arse off   to any mad enough to listen and as many as no Brigadiers General Rupert Golightly Jockstrap have urged extremely professional and highly-trained boots-on-Chinky- ground.

Help For Heroes, however,  has pronounced itself disappointed with this lack of aggression towards Beijing, saying, we in the heroes business are committed to the maintainance of a continuing supply of limbless footballers, basketballers and North Pole crawlers  and the govament, frankly, in ignoring the huge business potential of a war with China, however brief, is letting-down current and potential amputees, plastic surgery patients and even common or garden headbangers, all of whom rely on HM govament for their hero status, even if they aren't.  Which nearly all of them aren't. Obviously.  Joining-up isn't heroism, getting injured isn't heroism; doing something heroic is heroism, and it is something highly unusual, that's why it's called heroism, if everybody did it it wouldn't mean anything, so, saying that what everybody does is heroism, is actually shitting on heroism proper.  Help for Injured Soldiers,  that would be the right title. But it would still be wrong because the government which sent them should help them. Not me. I never wanted them to go in the first place.  What they should do is every other Cruise missile, just don't fire it, won't make any fucking difference to anything, apart from killing innocent people and making us even more enemies, every other Cruise missile that the Ruperts want to fire, just don't fire it and instead, give the half a million quid it costs to H4H;  just don't fire a hundred, fire fifty and send 25 million pounds to the North Pole Nutters, on the condition that they stay at home.

A choir of topless army wives has already volunteered to Sing for Sino-War 
on any TeeVee channel which will have them and as many as no programmes have expressed an interest in hosting the concert.  And Imelda Blair has,
 for only a small fee, promised to extend her expertise in drumming-up war, as a very meaningful adjunct to civil liberties and human rights;  her husband's, anyway.  

 Blessed are the warmakers. 
 For they shall have their mouths stuffed with gold.
  China, are they muslems/  if they are we must...
MediaMinster, ever agog at the prospect of war and stories as we set small countries ablaze is strangely silent, too, perhaps this unaccustomed temerity is in some way connected to China having two-and-a-half-million men under arms, 
with two-and-a-half million in their Territorial Army; having ten thousand tanks, three thousand aircraft and five hundred warships. China, depending on who you believe,  has between two hundred-and-fifty and three thousand nukes of the inter-continental variety. 

We have our own aircraft carrier potential,  the one without aircraft.

There's no business like war business like no business I know
Everything about it is appealing, everything that traffic will allow
Nowhere could you get that happy feeling when you are stealing that extra bow
There's no people like war people, they smile when they are low
Angels come from everywhere with lots of jack, and when you lose it, there's no attack
Where could you get money that you don't give back? Let's get on with the war.
 I tried, mr bungalow bill, I tried, until I'd worn out my fingertips on the keyboard, but I couldn't upload the garden photos I took. Each photo turned onto its side. It's a Blogger thing, according to t'internet. Maybe a tech savvy ishmaelite will send me instructions. In compensation, here's the gardening colour supplement from  autumn 2014:
 I once knew someone who simply couldn't bear cut flowers in the room, couldn't stand their prolonged,  dying disintegration; I am always reminded of that delicacy  when I buy them or when mrs ishmael cuts flowers from the garden; even so, I love flowers in the house and having them makes me plant and grow more of them.  I did read all that stuff about tomatoes - a bunch of tomato plants  in one room was wired-up to sort-of tomato ECG sensors;  a technician  went into an adjoining room, chopped-down and hacked-up a load of other tomato plants, re-entered the room containing the monitored tomatoes and the moment he did all the readings went off the scale, the tomatoes could sense that here came fruiticide.  It was serious research, have a look if you don't believe me, you'll find it. And regular readers will recall that I can work myself into a comical-tragical neurosis faced with the task of squirting poison into the realms of our resident, indestructible billions of woodlice.  I don't eat flesh, I love dogs, I like animals but even so I can kill flowers, bunch 'em up, shove 'em in a vase, watch them wilt and them throw them in the compost. What sort of person am I? 

I read in James Clavell's Shogun books that the Shogun, a mediaeval Nip warlord monarch,  could sit, peacefully composing a haiku, as he listened, inspired,  to the screams of a prisoner being boiled in oil; liking cut flowers isn't that bad.

Perhaps, one day, someone's gravity  will nudge me from my floricultural  trajectory, as mr mirage made in heaven's  nudged me from flesh-eating, but for now, bought or grown, the absence of them always makes me wonder where have all the flowers gone, even in darkest, blowiest  winter, mrs ishmael can display twigs and branches and evergreens to remind us that Creation is the original showbusiness. 
Sex appeal, fertilisation, breeding, exhibitionism, say it with flowers.

I had thought these Tesco lilies were the latest hybrid.

 Until mrs ishmael told me they were just dyed,
maybe in the dyer's garden.

It's Autumn, now. Escallonia as hedging. I must have half a mile of it, all told. Very good it is, clips really well, mr rosevidney rustic,
tough, too;  I have some little privets but they struggle in the salt wind;  the escallonia turns  black every year, as though treated with a flame-thrower but it always strikes back, glossy green, and tough as a Belfast  undertaker. mr mongoose felt my streets were paved with gold; fuck all, is what they're paved with. Weeds. And if the tide is high, seaweed.

 These two appeared recently,

nesting, in September; is that OK for pigeons, 
if they are pigeons?
Sunset's dipping point is streaking across the horizon, now, from North to South, low brilliant sunshine blinding,  forming September's non-conformist shadows.

Late Summer's Cowparsley is now gone. He's groomed every day, the blog dog, it's just that he doesn't know that and quickly shakes himself back to himself. I was worried that he might react badly to small persons coming into his territory but he has proven to be a good boy, a proper dogbloke.

This lot, kye, however, in the fields, have been none so gentle. They come right up to this wall, well, all the low walls; 'smy own fault, I feed them with grass clippings and hedge trimmings but  this year, down one stretch of the low wall, the Pampas grass has completely died back and the bastards could see into the garden
and all the lovely green stuff, hitherto invisible to them.
There came a shriek one morning, Ishmael, come quick! 
There were about eight of the great hulking brutes, stomping and shitting and pissing and mooing all over the garden.
A dozen  years' work and thousands of pounds, under hoof; if I'da had a gun I'da shot them all. I'da shot the fucking farmer who owned them, too. And his fucking wife and children. And his parents, if he had any.
If you have never tried herding cows, well, believe me, it is a shit job. You can't hurt them and they simply don't understand fucking English. But they understood angry dogbloke when he came to the rescue.  
As well as yelling curses at the kine I was shouting at the dog to go indoors, I could see one of those hooves just killing him stone dead but he was as nimble as could be, yap-yap-yapping at them, How-very-fucking-dare-you-come-in-here, snapping and snarling but keeping out of their way and in just a couple of minutes he and mrs ishmael had seen them off, crashing back over the wall.  I threw some stones at them to try and shift them up the other end of the field but they just bounced off.  They'll be back, I muttered, come Sun-up, as though they were Apaches, they'll rush us, come from two directions, got the taste of  shrubbery, now.

I went to town.  I want an electric fence, please.  How big? How big are they? Well, how big do you want?  I suppose about twenty-thirty metres, to go on the other side of a wall.  That'll be ninety pounds please. And you'll need batteries.  Batteries, do they work on fucking batteries? Howd'ya think they worked?  Well, I dunno, I'm not a farmer. Yes, instructions are in the box.

When I got home the cows were on the patio, trying to squeeze through the conservatory door, into the house.

Ishmael essays:
The Daily Ebola            drafted  17/10/14
A Bamboo Autumn        drafted 1/10/14
Horticultural News       drafted 12/10/14