Sunday, April 17, 2005


I'm disgruntled. Extremely.
Look, for most things, applied intelligence and diligence results in success. Can't cook? Be logical, practical, follow the instructions and hey presto - food that doesn't kill you.
Can't play an instrument? Learn how to read music, take a few lessons and step forward as, well ok, not the next Chopin but someone who can knock out 'happy birthday' at least.

But gardening? Nothing doing. I'm currently contemplating a withered money tree as I type. The tree I bought because it is "zero maintenance" and "extremely hardy, happy with any treatment and environment". The poor thing is both balding and at a drunken angle, like a Leytonstone Wetherspoon's regular. I followed this up by killing some Aloe Vera to my mother's bafflement ("How did you kill a cactus? they're indestructible. What did you do to it? How? etc.) and some cress. Cress, for god's sake! The stuff you grew on damp kitchen towel when you were in playschool!

At the moment we're trying to revive the lawn. If we don't our landlords will get in a gardener to do it and charge us. If that sounds harsh then you haven't seen our garden. So I bought some moss killer/grass feeder and joyfully sprinkled it about, humming 'we plough the fields and scatter...' feeling like some child of nature. It worked. A week later all the moss was dead. Unfortunately this left us with a load of earth. All the green stuff that we thought was grass had been moss. All of it. A few scraggy bits of grass were trying manfully but it was a losing battle. So I raked and sowed some easy/quick grow rugged lawn seed, ('rapidly produces tough, verdant' etc.) tapped it in, watered and waited. And waited. And waited.

Nothing. Nada. Not one new blade of grass has appeared. We still have a lot of the brown stuff hanging about instead. We're going to have to pay that damn gardener.

But do you see? The only thing I did successfully was to kill off some more plants! Moss, in this case. No matter how carefully I follow the instructions (and I really did try with that money tree) and how logically and sensibly I approach the matter, I will never be a gardener.

So, I hereby state, that for the good of all Flora, I shall hang up my gardening gloves, put away the seccateurs and softly close the shed door on my rake of broken dreams. sob.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Trans-Alpine Redemptorists

An era is coming to an end. The pontiff has breathed - or rather wheezed into a tube - his last. In time-honoured fashion (actually rather more decorously than is traditional; look at the Borgias...) there is the usual scrabble and speculation over the next candidate while the poor old codger's form is still warm and we shall shortly see the white smoke of ballots floating up the chimney: Aah, modern technology.

We are reliably informed that the odds are shortening on an ultra-conservative (well there's a surprise), a (gasp!) black cardinal with happy ideas of unity between muslims, buddhists and catholics - though naturally protestants are beyond the pale, and a rank outsider who is considered dangerously 'progressive', although at the age of seventy-odd I would have thought he's not got much progression left in him.

Still, a new(ish) lease of life will come to the Vatican, one supposes, and anyone who still pays attention to the Christ-malarkey will presumably prick up their ears.

Which brings me by circuitous route to the topic of this blog. My flatmate - in a crisis of non-faith - went on the Camino, and was adopted by a bunch of monks from Orkney, the Trans-Alpine Redemptorists. These lot didn't like John-Paul as he was, ahem, radical, too forward-thinking and too (I kid you not) zeitgeisty for them. They like to say the mass in Latin and nothing but. They make quite nice cheese. They dislike homosexuals. They participate good-humouredly in village competitions. Apprarently, girls wearing trousers is sailing a bit close to the wind in their opinion.

My flatmate is spending Easter with them, and god knows who exactly will be returning to London. Not the same person who left, I think. I'm personally holding out for her returning as a Nun.

Now, I was talking to a mutual friend who informs me that the Trans-Alpine Redemptorists have been excommunicated by the Pope for being too conservative. However, the person in question is notoriously vague and this might not be true (to cover my bottom from litigation). Now what I wish to know is, if you're excommunicated by the Pope, then when that Pope dies, are you still excommunicated? And do the descendents of the excommunicated labour under that same misfortune. Is, for example, the Queen still under a black cloud because of naughty old Henry VIII?

Any thoughts?