Getting Through

Sunday 28th November 2021

I’m like Nancy Mitford: ‘What time is it?’ ‘10.30.’ ‘No, better than that.’ ‘What then?’ ‘10.45.’ Me: ‘What date is it? 27th November?’ ‘No, better than that.’ ‘What then?’ ’28th November.’

We can only hope to crawl through time to a better place.

On Wednesday I took a Table Quiz at the Tabernacle, Notting Hill. Of the one hundred people present, 91 were not Loathsome Tolerant. Just one individual at our table in one of those advanced Loathsomes with numbers on it who caused farcical Loathsome carry-on amongst the others in our group. Three, including me, Adrian Edge, remained Intolerant. The other 6 were on and off with their Loathsomes the entire time. The full range of Loathsome possibilities were displayed in the most engaging manner. Off to whisper ferociously their idea of the answer to the question right in the face of their neighbour, then snap the Loathsome on again. This was the Loathsome champion doing this. Off to sip or eat, of course. Others became Loathsome weary: one actually said, ‘My ears hurt’ and took it off. Another smug old man had his lodged across the chin after a while, leaving the toxic orifices of mouth and nose hideously exposed.

Alistair Stewart the newsreader was the Quizmaster. Quite unrecognisable. Small, cross bank-manager manner with over-careful hair arranged in wings. It’s always extraordinary how badly middle-class adults behave at these occasions.

£1000s raised for a Prisons Charity.

Tuesday, Royston gave a discussion at the Garden Museum about Caribbean plant history. I never knew that the enslaved people brought with them from Africa their own plants such as the chocolate plant. Some of these got into the trading complex of the Caribbean eventually. So the enslaved people were not without agency, as growers. I wished I’d grasped better the list of plants brought from Africa. The man from Kew said African botany was neglected, although rich, and at dinner afterwards the Head of the Garden Museum said British native botany was amongst the most limited in the world. I was shocked. Robert Nevil greatly admired the matching Caribbean canapes taken after the discussion, including the breadfruit, tamarind and the ackee, which Royston had been hoping and hoping would come up on the slides and then at last it did. The discussion did not settle as to what it tasted like, though. The Jamaican academic who had a written a monologue in which an  enslaved woman in the 18th century has little patience with the white imperialist botanists giving the plants  names when they already have names, didn’t agree that it tastes of scrambled egg. Fabien-Boris Claude, not seen for years, re-emerged for the event, recruited by me as one born in the Caribbean. He engaged in a lively discussion of cutlasses, contributing from the floor in the ecstatic gospel manner.

How far from home these people are but how strong from the Caribbean their plants and way of life

The previous week I took the National Garden Scheme annual lecture with Rachel da Thame and Robin Hanbury-Tenison. Royston nearly retched on the coleslaw at the Polish Club afterwards but recovered to pore over the photo of the Queen dining there for the Duke of Kent’s 80th birthday.

On Thursday last week, the Multis dined with Laura Malcolm and Matt Driver. The Blond Multi wondered how long since they last dined – five years perhaps. We had a lovely little run of how we loathe it all. It was Matt Driver who pointed out the parallels with a totalitarian regime – fear, the dear leader flanked by ‘experts’, use of ‘science’, only the regime can save you, the regime knows best, propaganda, of course and finally, so delightful, ostracisation of ‘dangerous’ dissenters, protesters etc. 14 bottles consumed.

After that, I left for Lincoln on Saturday for the Messiah.

Posted Sunday, November 28, 2021 under Adrian Edge day by day.

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