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The Jewish Chronicle - JC Magazine - - Home Life -

HAVE NEVER been the keen­est of gar­den­ers. When I was a child I would won­der why my par­ents talked with such an­i­ma­tion about the hy­drangeas and the hy­acinths, when any­body could see that they were just bor­ing flow­ers. And worse if I hap­pened to man­gle the rose bushes by kick­ing a football at them, there would be dis­ap­proval — like­wise when I slid on my knees leav­ing skid marks on the grass while cel­e­brat­ing a a par­tic­u­larly mag­nif­i­cent goal.

In­deed, al­though at times I ap­pre­ci­ated the aes­thet­ics of a nice gar­den — I al­ways liked the fuch­sia, for ex­am­ple — the whole gar­den­ing thing se­ri­ously got in the way of my big­gest hobby, which hap­pened to be trash­ing the gar­den (and break­ing the oc­ca­sional win­dow). De­spite this, I did go through a

phase of think­ing that I might like to be a football grounds­man, though to be fair this co­in­cided with a time dur­ing the 1980s when QPR had just in­stalled Astro­turf and other clubs were fol­low­ing suit.

All of which might go some way to ex­plain why, un­til very re­cently, if you looked out of my kitchen win­dow you would see a fairly un­adorned patch of lawn, the length of which at this time of year was be­gin­ning to ob­struct my view of the gar­den fence. Of course, any­one who lives in the sub­urbs is sub­ject to the pres­sureof keep­ing up with the neigh­bours with re­gard to gar­den main­te­nance, al­though I have few worries. On one side lives a reclu­sive man who emerges from his front door only to ac­cept Ocado de­liv­er­ies and whose gar­den re­sem­bles Bor­neo in the rainy sea­son. On the other side lives a fam­ily with four young chil­dren — each of whom is so de­struc­tive to the shrub­bery as to make my child­hood self look like Alan Titch­marsh.

Even so, I have been feel­ing very guilty about my ne­glect of what could be a great as­set. As a fan of Nigel Slater’s cook­ery pro­grammes I ex­pe­ri­ence shame when­ever I see him pluck­ing fresh veg­eta­bles from a beau­ti­ful gar­den con­sid­er­ably smaller than my own. And when­ever my own chil­dren have ex­pe­ri­enced a de­sire to leave the com­puter and go out­side to play (which has hap­pened only three times since 2010) they have been dis­cour­aged by the in­pen­e­tra­ble for­est of weeds.

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