Friday, July 18, 2008

I had a great time. But I’d better polish off the New Yorker first.

I’ve calmed down. I still think all that I thought before about the stupidity and insensitivity of publishing such a cover, but I’m much less worried about the effect on Obama, because

a) the world-wide furore will have alerted pretty well everybody before the issue reached the newsstands, and to a considerable extent, will have neutralised the effect;

b) Obama himself continued to behave in that cool, presidential way;

c) And contrary to what the editors of the New Yorker may think, it wasn’t funny. Dukakis in his tank and Kerry in his wetsuit were both more than a bit comical. But they’re still not laughing at Obama.

I gather – we still haven’t had our copy – that the cover goes with an article about the Politics of Fear. New Yorker covers don’t usually relate to anything inside. I wonder if it has ever happened before. I wouldn’t have objected to the cartoon embedded in the article.

Enough of that.


We’re moving into production mode, and after having a very happy 24 hours there I’m now worried about getting back before things get away from me. I had taken supermarket ready meals with me, but in fact, on Wednesday, lunched on sautéed courgettes and steamed potatoes (Red Duke of Yorks) and an injudicious amount of butter. After such a feast, all other food tastes second-hand and derivative.

Two of the windowsill-grown courgettes are going full steam, with the third not far behind. (The fourth expired in the May frost.) The four directly-sown plants have got plenty of buds. They’re parthenocarpic (!) so as soon as we’ve got flowers, we’ve got courgettes – we don’t have to wait for the ladies.

And the peas are in bloom. The mange-touts will need to be picked promptly to keep them in production, like the courgettes. And we’re not scheduled to go back for nearly three weeks, when Helen gets here with her boys.

The first of the opium poppies to bloom turns out to be a gorgeous double one (here rather wet). The others, so far, are singles. I wonder if Afghani farmers can just stand there and watch their fields fill up with poppies, unsown. Probably not. Still, they must be an easy crop.

Here are the serried ranks, lined up as for a school concert. A famous salad potato, Pink Fir Apple, behind. Then orach, beetroot, “magic chard” – I’ve thinned the row and brought the thinnings back – and beans. The beans are trying, anyway, but what you mostly see is gaps in-filled with Sutherland kale and a foot of Italian lettuce.


No time to talk about knitting – not much has been done, anyway – but look at that for a Kirkmichael postcard. They come in batches, like Vogue Knitting Books.


  1. Re the Obama cover. I agree with your view that context is everything. Unmediated, on the cover, it has a totally different meaning than it would have embedded in a commentary.
    On the vegetable front, it is lettuce which I feel tastes the most different when plucked from the ground and on to the plate.

  2. What a wonderful picture, even if it appears quite grim. The liitle kid in the background may even be with us today. I'm guessing WW1 vintage?

  3. My New Yorker arrived on Friday. I'm convinced that they did it only to make people talk about them. So don't get het up. The editors must know that for something to be funny, there has to be a grain of truth in it and in that cover there is none.