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By the thorns - shadows of echoes of memories of songs
j4
j4
By the thorns
Gosh, I feel like I've spent half the weekend fighting, but in a good way; a bit of a mental and physical workout, if you like. Saturday morning was all the usual battles at the Oxfam bookshop (why we throw usable books away, why we're not allowed to price things at 99p, why we're clearing out three whole sections of books to make room for some more vastly overpriced stationery, etc.), but in the midst of all that we also managed to sell a lot of books and get a lot of clearing up done. Less successful was a skirmish with HSBC on the way home, as the ongoing attempt to actually close my account with them ate up another hour of my time. Still, the time wasn't entirely wasted, as I spent it curled up in a plush armchair reading Terry Eagleton's After Theory (thoroughly recommended), savouring the irony (or possibly post-irony) of enjoying post-Marxist post-cultural post-theory from within the maw of the Big Four.

fanf's party on Saturday evening featured battles of a different nature, in the shape of some friendly debates, including "Why Tagging Is Rubbish" (interesting, but I remained incompletely unconvinced by the arguments of chrislightfoot, who doesn't have a LiveJournal, and whom I may have accidentally scared off by knitting and/or threatening to cover people in chocolate) and "So, What's Christianity All About Then" (with SJK, who really doesn't have a LiveJournal). The latter debate turned into one of those conversations that really didn't want to end, and while it might be a bit silly to extend your journey home by an extra 2 miles at 2 a.m. just so you can keep on talking for a bit longer to somebody who's actually travelling in a different direction, I'd forgotten quite how much fun it could be.

I then spent most of Sunday afternoon wrestling with thorny plant life, incurring myriad minor injuries to my hands, arms and legs, and (more distressingly) a noticeable tear in my Idlewild t-shirt. However, our garden is now about 6 feet longer than it was before, as what I thought was land forever lost to lawless leaves turned out to be a few sensible trees and shrubs (mostly prickly) cocooned in over-enthusiastic bramble runners, bindweed and ivy.

"Are blackberries a weed, then?" asked addedentry (as he manfully chopped the prickly heap into sensible green-binnable lengths). Now, I don't want to descend into trite fridgemagnetry like "A weed is just a flower in the wrong place", but really, I'd like to think that there's no such thing as a "weed": there are merely subordinate plants and insubordinate plants. Brambles are lovely, but they're also wilful, unruly, untameable; trying to keep them in order is a full-time battle that few people can face when there are so many more docile alternatives. It seems somewhat ungrateful to enjoy great big finger-purpling handfuls of fresh blackberries and then mercilessly mutilate the plants that provided them; but while there may well be places in the world for ten-foot-tall bramble runners with inch-thick stems, small suburban gardens are not one of those places. Besides, they'll have grown back by the time I've finished writing this.

Giving blood tonight (the brambles should have left me at least an armful), which is pretty simple by comparison with God or gardening, and gives me a bit more time for tea and Terry Eagleton. It's a lovely life, really, most of the time.

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Current Mood: achieving equilibrium

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Comments
verlaine From: verlaine Date: September 4th, 2006 01:06 pm (UTC) (Link)
Try using some weedkiller on the blackberries. If they die, weed. If they survive, not weed. It's as simple as that.

Thank god someone invented weedkiller when they did, though, or we might never have known...
j4 From: j4 Date: September 4th, 2006 02:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
Haha! But then if they survive they'll still be covered in weedkiller, which will mean we can't eat the fruit, and that would be a shame. Eating food straight from the garden is just brilliant! It makes me feel all brown-legged and earth-mother-ish, like a big old hippy with long grey hair. Or else like Felicity Kendal in the Good Life (mmmm yes).

ultraruby From: ultraruby Date: September 4th, 2006 02:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
I hear you on the weed thing! Iain's definition of gardening involves ripping out every plant that we haven't planted, which, since we've only planted three plants in the whole garden, means we mostly just have DIRT.

I should read more Terry Eagleton - he's ace. My friend works with his son and I was WELL excited when I found out, but no one I knew even cared.
j4 From: j4 Date: September 4th, 2006 02:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
We haven't planted anything in our garden (except some snowdrops and some tulips) and of course it's not really our garden anyway so we can't just rip everything out, but I figure brambles and bindweed are probably okay to get rid of. And rosebay willowherb, much though I love the purple flowers and the bits of seed-fluff that look like sheep-wool caught on fences.

Last time I did some weeding I found a ginormous rhubarb plant under everything, but we never got round to picking any of it and it's now mostly died. I also found some lemon balm, and some raspberries. Mmmmmm. It could be a really nice garden if I had the time to look after it properly, but I'm rubbish at gardening, but too full of middle-class guilt (and to be honest probably too short of cash!) to employ a gardener.

You should read Eagleton's memoir The Gatekeeper -- it's only short, but it's really lively, really readable, and made me laugh out loud quite a few times, and it got me back into reading Eagleton after years of being quite scared of him. (His lectures were brilliant but after them I'd read my notes and think "Shit, I didn't really understand any of that, did I" and feel very stupid. I don't mind so much now if I don't understand everything, but After Theory is making me go "Yes! I see! That's right!" all the time, which is good. Though then I tried to explain some of what he was saying to Owen, who just gave me sceptical looks and snorted derisively at some bits, so, um, either Owen's better at cultural theory than Terry Eagleton, or I'm not very good at understanding/explaining. Hey ho.)

And I'm excited that your friend works with Terry Eagleton's son! :-)
From: ewtikins Date: September 4th, 2006 03:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
I figure there are subordinate plants, insubordinate plants, and each of those in their ideal or less-than-ideal environments...

My rhubarb died in the too hot this summer. I'm waiting to see if it will grow back next year but it may not have been well-enough established.
1ngi From: 1ngi Date: September 4th, 2006 04:04 pm (UTC) (Link)

>> to extend your journey home by an extra 2 miles at 2 a.m. just so you can keep on talking for a bit longer to somebody who's actually travelling in a different direction <<

There is a very beautiful second meaning in that phrase.
From: kaet Date: September 4th, 2006 09:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
green-binnable

IRTA green biennale. I was reading all about blackberries on wikipedia a while ago. Apparently, there are speical spinelss brambles, which are used in agriculture. I sometimes imagined that it was farm labourers in suits of armour who harvested them.

I must say that brambles are one of my favourite plants. Both tenacious and giving freefly (not that that means they shouldn't be destroyed where necessary, :)). I've very little time for these plants that die if you look at them the wrong way. Rowan, elder, cow parsley, grass, that kind of thing, they're the plants for me!
j4 From: j4 Date: September 6th, 2006 01:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
I've very little time for these plants that die if you look at them the wrong way.

Rosemary's good for that. Tougher than old boots but with tiny purple flowers and the best smell in the world. Rosemary and mint and apple trees and wild roses and all kinds of berries and currants. Tangible things.

I feel homesick without knowing which home I'm sickening for.
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