A View From The Greenhouse; Fear & Loathing In Dumfries & Galloway, Hate Crimes….Innit?

What Time Does The Picture Start?
© Colin Cross, Going Postal 2024

It was great to meet up with old friends and meet some new ones at the “Northern” get together. The more intrepid amongst the august gathering braved a short, if wet, walk down (and back up) Aira Force. One or two bottoms ended up in the mud, there was one grazed pate and one (no names no pack drill) early (I have to get petrol) departure. I saw the landlord of the pub the other day and he asked me to mention he’d found a selection of Ku Klux Klan gowns in various sizes, a couple of swastika armbands and a single jackboot in the rooms after check out. This is what happens when you allow a “Far Right” gathering on your premises. He’d be grateful if the owners would contact him for forwarding on.

Compost In The Salad Bed, Maturing
© Colin Cross, Going Postal 2024

The final preparations for what will (quite possibly) be the last attempt at creating a salad bed that will sustain two families(ish) for the summer season. I’ve lined the last of the three corner troughs (alongside the strawberry beds) with permeable membrane and filled the two separate channels with ‘bought in’ compost to a depth of about four inches. I fertilised it with chicken manure and nettle water before covering it with another piece of membrane to give time for the ferts to do their magic. I’ll start sowing seed (lettuce, radish, mixed leaves, rocket etc.) in the next week or so.

Making The Best Of Things
© Colin Cross, Going Postal 2024

Pushing on with the transformation of the outdoor growing area (affectionately now known as “The Allotment”) Dave (which Dave is now a secret, so as not to compromise anyone’s identity) has reassembled the four shallow “raised beds” which produced mixed results in the greenhouse last year, into two deeper ones, set in the driest part of the damp side of the space. The plan’s for onions, leeks, beetroot and kohl-rabbi to be grown in them. If the Klimate ever deigns to deliver a week or two of fine, dry weather we may put in some brassica, but it isn’t definite. In the lap of the Gods, one might say.

Rhubarb, Rhubarb, Rhubarb
© Colin Cross, Going Postal 2024

I planted out two of the three rhubarb roots we purchased from the Caldbeck potato sale, in a sheltered spot that will get full sun for around half a day or so from June onwards and cloched them over for two weeks to allow them time to establish. I think we’ve achieved that now and I’ve exposed them to the elements. I think they look healthy enough, although I’m not hopeful of too many crumbles from this years crop. Rhubarb’s clearly a long term project. Thankfully there are several clumps scattered around the village which are “forageable”, if you know what I mean.

Gambling With Nature
© Colin Cross, Going Postal 2024

Against my better judgement I decided to take a gamble with the red onion sets, planting forty bulbs or so in the larger of the two raised beds. It did make me wonder whether or not I should give up growing vegetables for food and simply plant different varieties outside and use them to predict wet weather, so far my success rate is in the region of 95%. The one question on every dog walkers lips, at least in the twin villages I inhabit, is “When is it going to stop raining”. So far we haven’t had anyone come up with a definitive answer beyond, “Maybe some time in May, or, more likely, the middle of June”. Happy days.

Another Gamble, Reasonably Calculated
© Colin Cross, Going Postal 2024

For every upside, there’s often an accompanying down, as a great many of us already know (you win a referendum and that’s an up, lying political apparatchiks and media talking heads decide to stall the outcome at every possible turn and that’s a down). One such is the result of using heated trays to start the tomato seeds off, rather than the tried and tested “airing cupboard and windowsill” method. Consequently I’ve put a double layer of bubble wrap in the base of the large cold frame and decamped (as of March 30th) thirty five seedlings. Three layers of fleece under the poly-carbonate top cover will hopefully see the majority grow into healthy plants without too much interference from the cold nights we’re still having. On the odd sunny(ish) day I do expose them to the light, with fingers always crossed.

Pot On, Or Plant Out? Decisions, Decisions
© Colin Cross, Going Postal 2024

I’m very pleased with the new broad bean seed (another Caldbeck purchase) I did toy with the idea of planting them out before the Easter weekend, but decided, instead, to pot them on & let them harden off a bit in the greenhouse. Ironically, covering them up with a single layer of fleece, so as not to risk “burning” them on the odd bright day. I’ll probably get them in the ground in the next week or so, once we’ve figured out an adequate method of protecting them from various rodents and flying rats.

A Toast To Postaliers, Present Or Not
© Colin Cross, Going Postal 2024

Once the white hoods and gowns had been stowed away for another year, the eagle flags removed from the walls and  the last chorus of The Horst Wessel had ended with an appropriate and resounding cheer, a toast seemed in order. I’d asked the landlord to lay on a bottle of his finest 1945 vintage schnapps, but, having had possibly his busiest two nights since Christmas, he’d forgotten. Thankfully a forward thinking member of our “far right” company (you know who you are) had foreseen this particular circumstance and presented the glorious leader with this fine bottle of Lakeland whisky. Glasses were produced and several “Prosts” were accompanied with ceremonial shots. The evening ended with handshakes, cordial bon homie, mildly drunken promises to do it all again and more than one “Seig Heil”.

As you read this missive can you please spare a though for that little old lady, travelling on the bus from Dalbeattie to Beeswing to have an Easter Monday lunch with her family, who was overheard by a purple haired, nose pierced, tattooed person of indeterminate sex to opine to her travelling companion “I don’t know about you, but ye ken yon fellow on the telly, ye ken the one ah mean, the one wi’ the dresses and the long hair who calls himsel’ Marguerite”? “Aye” came the reply “I ken her right enough.” “Och” came the reply “Ye shouldnae be callin’ him a her, anyone wi’ eyes tae see kens he’s a man. Ah dinnae know what this world’s coming too”. Tho old lady departed the bus at Beeswing with a wave and a cheery goodbye and went about her business. Deeply offended by this blatant misgendering Phil (Philomena) McCrackin (they/them) took it upon themselves to attend Castle Douglas police station, on a Bank Holiday Monday no less, to lodge a complaint that a “hate crime” had probably been committed on the number 47 bus, just that day. Not only that, but there were witnesses to this shocking event. A small kerfuffle ensued, as PC Bendoon, the designated “Hate Incident” commissar for the area was on study leave, following up on his two day training course in how to recognise and bring to book the perpetrators of misgendering, political sarcasm, Islamophobia and (the catch-all) “stirring up hatred”. Phils was advised that PC Bendoon would get right on it as soon as he returned to the station and that no stone would be left un-turned in his dogging pursuit of the miscreant in question.

We may laugh, but to a certain extent this is how police work is carried out in many places, especially in some parts of the Middle East. People are encourage to keep an eye on their neigbours and to keep their ears open for any hint of “wrong-speak”. It will come as no surprise that people with malicious intent are happy to settle scores, old and new, by spuriously reporting wrong doing, either for personal gain, revenge, or simply because someone may not think as you think, or believe what you believe.  I may have it wrong; Scotland may simply, in its typical cack-handed fashion, be attempting to protect the vulnerable from the predator and the abuser, but I don’t think so. Honestly? I think we’re witnessing two things happening simultaneously. An attack on the basic tenets of “free speech”, including the right to criticise religions and ideologies if we see fit to do so and to use biting sarcasm to point out the ridiculous “wokery” and virtue signalling which currently assails us on all sides, but, and decidedly more worryingly, an attempt to introduce a blasphemy law to protect Islamist’s (primarily) from criticism of any kind. I have no doubt the whole thing (whatever the intent) is going to be a complete “dogs breakfast”, but how many innocent people will be forced to apologise, placed on a register or worse, sent to prison, simply for voicing their perfectly reasonable and truly held opinions either by word of mouth or in writing? In an increasingly insane world, the retention of a semblance of sanity is an act of rebellion.

© Colin Cross 2024