Settle down, little ones, and hark to a lovely story. Once upon a time there was a brave but somewhat dimwitted lad called Jack, who swapped the family cow for a bag of magic beans (to the great disappointment of his mum), and sowed them, and grew a mighty beanstalk. At the top of the beanstalk lived a rich giant...
What do you mean you’ve heard it before? And what do you mean the panto season doesn’t start for at least another four months? This is serious stuff, as long as we don’t let the facts get in the way of a good story.
Because what we’re talking about here is glut of vegetables, very much à la Jack up a Gum Tree. Or maybe even several gluts. What’s the collective noun for a glut? We already have a flock of seagulls, a parliament of owls, a piteousness of doves (look it up if you don’t believe it). Logically and self-referentially, it ought to be a glut of gluts.
Regular readers will already have been astounded by the report of the 25ft courgettes in Mrs D’s allotment, an effusion of journalistic licence which is already the subject of close scrutiny by the Press Complaints Commission. The effusion, not the allotment.
And every day it gets better. Or worse, depending on your point of view. Because we now have runner beans coming out of our ears, potatoes tumbling around us every time we open the airing cupboard, onions making the mattresses all lumpy, mange-touts that aren’t getting manged. And the Attack of the Ten-Ton Pumpkins is becoming more of a reality by the day.
We’ve even heard of cases where friends have visited others’ houses and not been allowed to leave without taking at least a bushel of beetroot with them. At gunpoint.
This grow-your-own malarkey is all well and good. You commune with nature, you spend the kids’ inheritance on seeds, some of them grow, you save loads of money on greengrocers’ bills. But why does it all have to come to fruition at once?
Why can’t they use some of this gene-splicing technology that everyone’s on about’s all the rage these days to give a controlled flow of organic abundance throughout the year, rather than concentrated into a six-week period between the middle of August and the end of September?
The timing’s pretty damned inconvenient when you come to think about it, what with the kids going back to school and the ongoing redecoration programme. (On which subject, let’s not get into who has locked themselves into the bathroom how many times this week. It will only end in acrimony.)
If you still don’t recognise the extent of the horticultural glut problem, just turn back to page 22: it’s direct action time.
Last Saturday, The Bear pub on Wellsway is held the Bear Flat Glut, which as well as having a certain gloopy-sounding poetry to its name was also a sort of vegetable Swap Shop at which those with a copiousness of carrots could offload them in exchange for someone else’s munificence of marrows.
What a commendable idea. Next time they have one, if we could swap a couple of our overflowing carrier bags of runner beans for any spare beer that the pub might have lying around, then at least one of us would go home happy.
Hope, like carrots, springs eternal...