Watching Gardener’s World last night, I was struck yet again by a troubling thing. I’m sure there are plenty of women out there in the home counties who secretly warm at the thought of an antique-style leather jerkin, but I can’t see Monty Don on Gardener’s World without thinking of Roald Dahl’s Big Friendly Giant. I don’t know if it’s the crinkly forehead, something about the ears. or his unique yen for retro-chic peasant clothing. And then there’s the title sequence, in which he hurdles hedges in a single stride while shouldering an enormous spade. He may be popping over to the Long Border, but he has the air of a man about to fell forests with a single blow. Either they’ve shot him from a funny angle or the man has 12 foot legs. Or, and this shouldn’t be totally discounted, everyone else who presents Gardener’s World is really really tiny.
Opening the lid of the terracotta rhubarb forcer, wondering, as ever, how many crops of rhubarb I would have to make before this ye olde worlde affectation has paid for itself (perhaps my great grandchildren will see it break even), I am struck by an army of slugs crawling over the forced stems like the blood-sucking leeches they are. I plunge my bare hand down through the top, through a spider’s web and into creepily damp straw and squelchy slug bodies, most of which drop promptly onto the soil anwyay. It was like Paul Burrell in I’m a Celebrity all over again, except I didn’t scream, just felt a bit sick inside.