environment


Today I did behold a lemon and upon its label were there inscribed the names of Imazalil and Thiabendazole. Purchasing this cursèd fruit and spiriting it from the market, I was able swiftly to neutralize it within an admixture of quinine and a reduction of juniper water. Then I did betake to my study to further examine this phenomenon.

I have begun these, my Notes Towards a Grimoire of Contemporary Spirits Whose Powers May or May Not Be Trusted.

1. Imazalil

2. Thiabendazole

3. Triticonazole

4. Tebuconazole

5. Glyphosate

6. Thiacloprid

7. Metaldehyde

8. Cypermethrin

9. Abamex

10. Isomek

11. Kunshi

12. Sokol

13. Tropotox

Let it be known then that their ranks do extend yet further, and while capable each of great boon even so do they offer a bane for their unintended actions upon the other plants and creatures of the air, water, and earth.

Next:

On the Rites of the Summoning of the Mouthdaemon, M.S.G.

Having just gone back to work after two weeks off, the mood is positive. This is despite the continuing attempts of the weather systems bothering the UK to impose a pathetic fallacy of doom and angst. Every time it seems to be clearing up some fresh annoyance sweeps in. The reason then, for this upbeat demeanour, in the face of our shit northern climate? It is due to a feeling, actively nurtured, of letting go of some things.

Holidays are a good time to take stock, and Easter holidays are traditionally a good time for Spring cleaning. With a succession of weather fronts Setting In, we were less able than usual to throw open the windows, air the sheets, give walls a lick of paint, then pop down the river to visit a rodent pal.

However, we (me and The Best Belovèd) did spend a good deal of time looking at the shelves, as detailed in the Books post (2nd April just then), and the cupboards, making plans to shed a ton of baggage. This is a fact moonlighting as a metaphor; we have a weight of stuff accumulated, between us. I’m not sure if it’s worse or better that we keep a bunch of extra stuff in an attic space (another dual function phrase).

The precise purpose of holding on to most of it is unclear. I mean – sure, that’s 14 boxes of books… But, that’s 14 boxes of books!

Hoarding is something one tends to associate with those sad cases who are found dead under 50 years’ worth of Daily Mirror back issues, knocked out by a collapsed stack of Dolmio jars, stifled in the dust of a lifetime’s unemptied ashtrays. Not parsimony, not Scrooge McMean avarice… just an inability to shed? Yet here we are, with a bunch of consumer goods, that escape uselessness by the narrowest of annotated margins. Or that vault effortlessly over boundaries of taste and meaning from a realm of slightly boss-eyed whimsy. Exhibit K: a 7″ single of Kylie Minogue’s I Should Be So Lucky, which I am fairly confident I have kept for the sole reason that if you play it at 33 rpm it sounds a teensy bit like Rick Astley:

How we passed the time in 1987.

Happily, there are remedies for this kind of low-level symptom of late capitalism. A few years back I wrote something about psychological benefits found in setting fire to old notebooks. Clearly my sentiment is not so incorrigible that it can’t be combatted with a well-timed radical gesture. …I’m not going to burn all the books! Not that radical. But as the holidays drew to a close, a moment of clarity enveloped the house, and various schemes – and, crucially, motivated enthusiasm – for riddance took hold.

Here’s to the enduring joys of bibliophilia, of record collecting, whatever the little indulgences in items that foster joy and devotion… but here’s also to being able to see and accept when something could quite easily be got rid of, never seen again, and remain unmourned.

“…my god, it’s full of tat.”

Longer-term followers of The Mortal Bath may recall mention of horticultural activity.

Sunday in the garden, a nice ritual in a number of aspects. Eventually the physical event of tending the plants took on a greater importance than any need to communicate it to the wider world.

Part of that is the unbearable crunchiness of it, the perception of so-called virtue so-called signalling, all that. At core was a question for which I was unable to generate a satisfactory response. (The question of course being “Who gives a fuck?”)

I’d often devote mental space to extrapolation while in between the rows. Composing, contemplating the long-term potential of collating the posts into a modestly successful series of books, the delivery service, a large scale permaculture campaign, the inevitable backlash and ensuing midlife crisis in which I purchased a fleet of leather jackets and a battered motorcycle to make a road movie round the Horn of Africa with Ewan McGregor.

I would giggle softly to myself as I returned to the present to hoick a clump of cat shit into the hedge with the hoe.

“Yeah, but, acorns, man!”

“No, definitely a cat.”

Anyway, Green Parent magazine/ rise and fall fantasias aside, there’s such a lot to be said for digging, edging, preparing, planting, weeding, growing, picking and eating. There is a lot to be said about it as well, but, like those writers spending endless hours polishing their process posts, it’s likely as useful left unuttered.

Last year we grew radishes, potatoes, beetroot, carrots, onions, leeks, beans, broccoli, rocket and turnips. This is in a space about 6x7m.

We also had tomatoes and cucumbers in grow bags along the wall under the kitchen window, mint in a metal tub (mint loves to take over) and borage in poly pots. A hop plant did well for itself until it got overrun with aphids… the ladybirds we introduced quickly got too fat to keep up with the little green varmints. We had a disappointing elderberry crop for the same reason.

Mostly, though, we had tasty, tasty veg.

The great thing about gardening is that it’s an annual lesson in planning being only part of the schedule. The science of it is fairly predictable, but it’s all subject to uncontrollable variables.

This was last month… I mean, I’m only writing this because it’s chucking it down with rain outside, again.

This weekend, though, fair being foul or no, we’re potting up and planting what we can. The excitement of the new season is upon us. The bird is on the wing. Pan’s pipes do warble native woodnotes wild. There’s a bustle in the hedgerow.

Although, to be honest, that is more likely to be next door’s cat.

My basic point here is that news media seems to have become a cartoon, yet it is the viewer who is standing in thin air, holding a hand-lettered sign reading “Have mercy”.

“News” has always been subject to partisan adaptation, but in recent years there has been a lurch towards more and more overt manipulation and propaganda.

I don’t mean all that made-up stuff on Facebook. Which, by the way, appears even MORE made-up the more I see that one screen grab that proves Russia was trying to make fools out of America in the Presidential election. The Satan arm-wrestling Jesus one? I’ve never seen it in any other form except that one screen grab. Anyway.

The problem of the use by Trump (et al) of the term “fake news” is that what is frequently termed “the mainstream media” (MSM) (which I take it refers to traditionally reputable reporting outlets like newspapers, their online versions, BBC, ITV, Sky News, and the US equivalents) are, indeed, now perhaps more than ever, offering clearly biased versions of events, or frequently just making shit up.

It is a pantomime so painfully laboured that it is unclear for whom the entertainment is intended.

It could be argued that with the presentation of some issues in the news cycle being so blatantly one-sided and manipulative, there must be some other aim to the parade of bogus views, faked outrage and nose-leading opinion pieces masquerading as reporting.

Distractive media, one might call it, existing purely to have everyone looking at something else while some particularly egregious scheme is effected.

In the UK, for one example, we have Katie Hopkins, whose utterances I greet with a shrug when I hear about them. Her provocations are such a contrivance that I cannot expend any energy on them.

For another example, follow @geoffreyjewdas on Twitter and work backwards to the BBC’s latest round of character assassination concerning Jeremy Corbyn.

The Salisbury “chemical weapons” thing.

It is documented fact that eccentric multimillionaires attempt to control the discourse. Their reaction to a loss of monopoly, through individuals being able to access information directly, with millions simply not trusting them n’more, seems to have been to insist that their broadcasting organs present increasingly quixotic and offensively skewed information.

There’s a sense of acceleration about it too, an increasingly frantic scramble towards the base, which appears also to be a mode manufactured deliberately.

Yet with cackhanded obviousness, brazen wrongness. This seems more about attempts – and I mean comically slapdash attempts – to control people’s perceptions of events in a way that suggests our overlords don’t care who knows they’re trying to do it, or that they think no one can tell. Only, is it because “they” – The Man – think it’s safe to just do what they like, or that they want everyone to think that?

It calls to mind a real-world version of Facebook’s walled garden. A place where individual stories can’t change individuals’ decisions, but the overall backdrop can manipulate the way those events are interpreted. Only the backdrop here is apparently one of those Wile E. Coyote works, painted over a canyon wall, through which Roadrunner disappears, and from which emerges a truck, with horn blaring.

Viewed from outside the cartoon, it is funny in its preposterousness. Inside the world of the cartoon, from the point of view of the Coyote, it is an affront to reason, one that might legitimately prompt another hand-lettered sign saying “What the fuck is going on?”

Currently considering a more appropriate title for what I was calling ‘Sunday in the garden’, mostly because it sounds hopelessly boring and twee. Anyway, the point is the content, of course, and over the summer the content of the garden has changed enormously.

I mean, ‘enormous’ is often used glibly in such a context, but srsly, this garden has changed, man. Veg end went from this:

To this:

Eh? EH? Note the petunias. And at the other end, we introduced hens.

Chooks love green leaves and scratching about, so the girls got stuck right into the plants here. It’s now a twig-and-soil Mad Max-ish hen zone. Every day throws up some new excavated surprise – decades-old crisp bags, neolithic pottery shards, mouse burial complexes aligned with Mus Major in 10,500 BC… they are quite the archaeologists. 

I mean, this was August, so they’ve really gone at it even since this pic.  The troupe is Settled Right In. This is they having a dust bath ‘neath an acer.

So, yeah! Tending the fowl, weeding, holiday, toddlers… blog updates have been fairly low down the pecking order this summer.

Best wishes to everyone enjoying the moon cakes.

Waxing gibbous over Yorkshire, earlier this evening.

image

Work began on the fence, with the entrance being the first section. My dad lent a pair of hands, and a pair of spirit levels, to help create what appears, without fencey context, to be a Fringe-style portal to a parallel universe over by the hedge. ‘Tis a world much like our own, only sunny in summer time.

Some precision measuring, and less precise grunting spade-and-trowel work, took a couple of hours out of the morning. It’s over that side to take advantage of the paved path, mainly.

Note the partially-tidied privet hedge (left of pic), another fathers day tick list item, which had to be abandoned owing to short extension lead issues and on account of the June skies dulling once more. Solstice sunrise and full moon seem unlikely to be visible if the weather continues in its current sogginess. Got the lawns done, at least, so the grass is enjoying the showers.

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