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Diarmuid Gavin.jpg

Depressing news.  Depressing weather for the Bank Holiday.  Diarmuid Gavin

even pronounced the hundredth Chelsea Flower Show unimaginative and

somewhat disappointing.

Chlamydia looked out at the rain-soaked patio of Costamuchamoulah

must-seen cafe.  Leaves swirled around and became mulch on the


The Yellow Book

She picked up an NGS brochure which was advertising various local gardens

which were to open in Suttonford to support the Anacondas In Adversity!

charity: a cause which she and her daughter, Scheherezade, fervently


She prayed for a meteorological change while stirring her Mocha, thus

destroying its award-winning fern imprint in choco-powder.

How much had she paid for this caffeine indulgence?  As much as could have

bought her three houses in Stoke-on-Trent. Really, social and even solitary

caffeine was becoming a luxury she could ill afford.  If her pension forecast

was anything to go by, she would be better supporting a Poundcafe

expansion from Kirby.

She flicked through last week’s FT supplement, How To Spend It.  Maybe

someone could publish a spoof version and add a final ironic Not to the title.

She picked up a less pretentious publication and started to read an article on

dogulators.  This had nothing to do with the abominable practice of dogging,

but was concerned with the various means and strategies for calculating

one’s canine friend’s true age.

Clammie thought that the formula was fairly simple: multiply by seven.

Apparently, like pension forecasts, it was a lot more complicated and involved

the recognition that some breeds age at different rates and that there are

periods when the pace accelerates and then slows.  No wonder she was so

confused about how her age of receipt of pension contributions kept varying

and she found it hard to focus on the ever-receding pot of gilt as it miraged

out of sight under the insubstantial rainbow of her transient life.

She would have to do some work to increase her contributions.  Maybe she

could create a garden design and take it to next year’s Chelsea show?  It

couldn’t be so hard to gain a gold medal.  There seemed to be a plethora of


She had heard Alan Titchmarsh, no doubt irritated by Gavin’s criticisms, use the

terminological inexactitude: iconoclastic, in reference to some of the designs.

She had conjured up the image of a Cromwellian regiment of out-of-control

Roundheads smashing up garden gnomes with their pikestaffs.

Oliver Cromwell by Samuel Cooper.jpg

Hey! What if she created a moving installation using such a – she hesitated to

adopt the over-exposed abstract noun that had broken out all over Chelsea-

using such an innovative concept?  She was sure that Diarmuid would be up for

a bit of Celtic licence as long as no one smashed a fibreglass leprechaun.  An

art garden would be the answer to her spiritual stagnation.  No- wait!- an Arp

garden.  Now she was really feeling her creative sap rise!

Yes, Hans Arp had made woodcuts of leaves and forms and had just thrown

them together at random.  She could imagine sitting on that elevated bench

with Alan T, discussing her concept.  She would refer to Dadaism and

geometrie vegetale and might even call the plot an Existential Garden for an

Age of Nihilism.

It would be a space where she had lost the plot!  She would have at its centre

two huge sculpted dice which would turn on an axis, like swivel-headed loons.

People might have to return a six to enter; or not.

She would impress Titchmarsh by echoing Arp: My garden represents a

secret, primal meaning slumbering beneath the world of appearances.

Chance points to an unknown but active principle of order and meaning

that manifests itself in the garden’s secret soul.  Alan would be blown away

as if by a giant leaf vacuum.  And the non-existence of any supporting

rationale would contain the ambivalence of the aforesaid appliance, as it

would contribute to a kind of chaos theory that, just like the leaf blower,

moved concepts around rather than forming them into a neat structure

and creating something useful, such as a compost heap.  The leaf vacuum-

a metaphor for our time.

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Secret Garden?  She could place a rusting metal outline of a Ben

Weatherstaff figure leaning on a spade at its centre and a robin

could buzz around on elastic over an empty wheelchair.  That might

suggest hope.  On alternative days she would replace the wheelchair

with a vandalised shopping trolley, representing mauvaise foi.  Brilliant!

Next year Diarmuid would not be bored, she could assure him.