24 February 2011
Let’s get the sad and gloomy bit over first. I had a bad night-considerable pain from my joints and little sleep from two o’clock.
Sadly, my prediction concerning the fatalities in New Zealand is proving only too prophetic. There were 98 fatalities at the latest count with a possible further 125 killed in the local TV station. In addition, there are still a large number Â unaccounted for by the authorities who now seem to have given up all hope of recovering anyone else alive under the rubble.
To complete the trio of gloom I have to confess that I was precipitous in suggesting the imminent toppling of the Libyan President Gaddafi. After running a virtual police state for the last 42 years it seems he is going to go down fighting even to the bitter end. He has engaged a large number of African mercenaries who have no compunction at mowing down the protesters, even using machine guns, and according to rumour, hundreds have already been killed. Will the bravery of the protesters survive the murderous attack of the mercenaries?
Onto more pleasant topics. A late evening call yesterday from one of my young nephews, Tom Grand, informed us that he had a business appointment at lunchtime in Cambridge and wondered whether he could pop in on the way mid-morning to see us. (In the event Tomâ€™s mid-morning turned out to be early evening but then the Grands have always been slightly eccentric so far as time is concerned!). Nevertheless, I was delighted to see him, as Tom is one of my favourites. A delightful young man with a great deal of natural charm and good manners. He kindly brought us a beautifully laid out album of family photographs so that we can come up to date with the comings and goings of his lovely wife, Letitia, and of his three attractive children.
In the background I can hear the hum of the chainsaw being wielded by one of our local tree surgeons who Alice engages once a year, with characteristic generosity (to my pocket!) to trim the top of our long boundary hedge. The problem is Â our dear gardenerâ€™s fear of heights. Â xxWith three acres, even with half of it down to a paddock, there is a great deal to which to attend. I always used to mow the lawns myself with my 1939 Dennis. A magnificent 36 inch cylinder mower, which had been retired from one of the Cambridge colleges. It was a monster of a machine and extremely heavy and difficult to swing round at the end of each row.I knew it had become too much for me the day I failed to make the turn and went straight across one of our flower beds mowing down several of my precious rosebushes.
We have certainly had some funny gardeners over the 46 years we have lived here. One, I recall, had difficulty in bending down so that nothing much got done below 3 feet above the ground, except with a long handled implement- not what you would call an ideal gardener. Yet another was fearful of the gloom and would not go behind any tall bushes, of which we have quite a number, again not what you would call ideal. Our present gardener Peter, has been with us, now I think, for over 30 years and is ideal in every way except for his fear of heights which is well worthwhile forgiving. I have often said jokingly that if it came to a choice between me and the gardener I think my wife’s choice would be a pretty close run thing!
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