the m john harrison blog

Tag: country matters

i never promised you a rose garden

Seeing all these roses in one place is first overpowering then depressing. It’s a rose zoo. Crammed into the invisible cage of the planting, they want their space but at the same time seem to lean up against one another for comfort. And the names they give them. The most popular buy is a white rambler called A Shropshire Lad; his consort, Shropshire Lass, gets less trade. “Look, this one’s new for this year! Look, ‘Ancient Mariner’!” There’s more than one ancient in here this afternoon. “This is solid!” –patting a box hedge, admiring and patronising at the same time, congratulating a shrub for being grown by the same culture that grew him– “It’s been up a few years!” Nevertheless, dark clouds are gathering here at the David Austen home for old gardeners.



Sign on a truck– DELIVERING UTILITY SOLUTIONS. Sign on a road– SLOW MUD. The worst kind. Two signs on farm entrances in the middle of nowhere– AUTO BODY REPAIRERS & FUN RIDE HERE. Sign on a hurrying Citroen van– THREE COUNTIES OVENCLEAN. Centre of Ludlow: A woman hurries past then comes back, stops, and stares into the middle distance with an expression of rage on her face; suddenly hurries away again. A man drinks from a can as he pushes his baby along in its buggy. Overheard– “It’s just a bit Wicker Man at the moment” & “Root beer, like Germolene.” For the novel: “A rectangular pond, surrounded by warm limestone flags and odd little stone benches across which tiny lizards flowed like shadows. It looked older than the house itself.” Sign on a refurbished building in Wales– CENTRE FOR THE CREATIVE MIND: CLOSED. I thought I saw ostriches at the top of a steeply sloping field near Brampton Bryan. DROVERS THAI RESTAURANT.