goldilocks in the land of green ginger


I’m in the grand old City of Hull – that place which gave us the pioneering spirit of William Wiberforce, Amy Johnson and er…The Housemartins – and I’m house-sitting for friends Jill and Adam, who are soon to relocate to that epicentre of creativity – yes, Birmingham!  While the Dowse/Ledger conglomeracy are off holidaying in Norfolk, the Rose boys get to reimagine my gypsy life in suspension…pretend that we really live in this lovely house ‘midst the tree-lined avenues of HU5, surrounded by the accoutrements of other people’s lives, with books, CD’s, kitchen utensils, etc. to savour.

From someone else’s garden (and the conveniently placed allotment patch just yards from the back gate) I harvest sufficient for a wholesome feast – apples, pears, raspberries, blackberries, gooseberries, tomatoes (several varieties), cucumber, courgettes, onions, chillies, spinach, spuds, carrots, turnips, beetroot, beans. Half of them end up in a roasting tin. I reacquaint myself with the sound of The Smiths on someone else’s Hi-Fi. I cook a fine-tasting cake in someone else’s oven. Harvest-time is the best time of year, surely? I’m reminded of my beloved Nanny Rose and the cornucopia of delights that would emerge from her back-garden (much to be processed as jam, chutney or wine) and I’m also reminded of the fact that for the past 3 months I haven’t once found time to visit the Bournville allotment that I tend with Lisa TC.

Whereof thou hast not sown, how canst thou reap with a clear conscience? Bah! Waste no want not. The crops need dispensing and are mighty delicious besides. We scoff and chill, before bathing in someone else’s bath and enjoying the comforts of their bed. Just so long as everything is back in its place when Daddy, Mommy and Baby Bear return on friday….

And until then, some local sightseeing; including the remarkable TRAIL O’ TURDS. In honour of its Philip Larkin connection, Hull has initiated Larkin25, a City-wide infestation of giant toads (pronounce it ‘turds’ for a stab at the unique local inflexion) inspired by the Poet’s ‘Toads’ and ‘Toads Revisited’


Why should I let the toad work
Squat on my life?

Can’t I use my wit as a pitchfork
And drive the brute off?
Six days of the week it soils
With its sickening poison –
Just for paying a few bills!
That’s out of proportion.
Lots of folk live on their wits:
Lecturers, lispers,
Losels, loblolly-men, louts-
They don’t end as paupers;
Lots of folk live up lanes
With fires in a bucket,
Eat windfalls and tinned sardines-
they seem to like it.
Their nippers have got bare feet,
Their unspeakable wives
Are skinny as whippets – and yet
No one actually starves.
Ah, were I courageous enough
To shout Stuff your pension!
But I know, all too well, that’s the stuff
That dreams are made on:
For something sufficiently toad-like
Squats in me, too;
Its hunkers are heavy as hard luck,
And cold as snow,
And will never allow me to blarney
My way of getting
The fame and the girl and the money
All at one sitting.
I don’t say, one bodies the other
One’s spiritual truth;
But I do say it’s hard to lose either,
When you have both.

by Philip Larkin, from The Less Deceived (1954)

And here I am, eating the windfalls. The Three Bears are my friends. Perhaps it is the Toad, though, that I have spent a lifetime avoiding?


3 Responses to “goldilocks in the land of green ginger”

  1. 1 Kim

    We have something similar in Burlington but with cows-and sans literary influence:

  2. “Burlington’s event is not a sanctioned event by the official Cow Parade organization…” – now the local politics is intriguing me. Cow Parade Wars!
    I saw cows munching in Munchen a few years back, and doing something similar in Hanover before that.

  3. Vandalism has stricken one or two of the Hull turds, but it’s not an uncommon problem.
    The cow is not sacred here.

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