Earlier I caught my meagre daily ration of Test Cricket on television. It's good to see England 'battin' so naicely' as Geoffrey Boycott might put it but it's not at all the same thing as seeing the so-called dull parts as well as the fours, sixes and dismissals. A few weeks ago David Steel was on Radio 4's Feedback programme complaining about R4 longwave being taken over by cricket. I do sympathise with people in remote areas who can only get longwave but Lord Steel doesn't understand cricket. He said there was no need for a ball by ball commentary and that selected highlights would suffice. Wrong! The whole point is to follow every ball (if you have time), including all the spells when no runs are scored and no wickets taken. This is just as interesting.
Apart from the Last Night, I see no point in watching the proms on television. The screen is cluttered up with distracting subtitles, explanations and messages advising you to read the prom notes. Worse, the sound quality is so poor. My hearing is not that good and I find that I can't hear quiet passages at all. If I turn up the sound, though, I am blasted off the sofa when the music gets louder. I've tried watching while listening to R3 but it's always just enough out of synch. to madden. There is a reason for this. When I was at school I had a friend whose aim in life was to become a BBC sound engineer. I have no idea whether or not he achieved his ambition but if he did, he's probably out of a job now. The BBC has so many more important things to spend the licence payers' money on that it has sacked its engineers and no longer gives a toss about sound quality. Which is probably why one has to keep adjusting the volume on the radio all day long: down for the news, up, up, up for The Archers, the quietest programme on the wireless. Speaking of Ambridge, this has been one of the most boring weeks there ever. Until this evening, when I thought I heard the continuity announcer say, 'Ruth and Sam are like a well-oiled machine'. What? They aren't even married. But perhaps I misheard and the 'are' didn't exist.
Books & gardens
I have been reading Tea With Mr Rochester by Frances Towers. As I've just reread The Exiles in Love I was amused to meet another teenage girl in love with the fictional babe magnet. I must say that Hilary McKay is funnier on the subject, with Mr Rochester falling at Jane's 'unworthy feet'. Miss Towers' book is a collection of short stories, rather same-y but very enjoyable and with a lot of good stuff about gardens. The line, 'It was July, and the pink and white of the garden had given way to red and blue' had me looking round my own garden while I was having supper out there this evening, to see how true it is here. Interpreting 'red' fairly broadly, we have: hardy fuchsias, penstemoms, pelargoniums, Potentilla 'Monarch's Velvet', Hemerocallis 'Stafford' and Helenium 'Moerheim Beauty'. The only blue comes from the double-flowered form of Geranium pratense. I recommend the potentilla, which is a hardy perennial very easy to grow from seed. The geranium is not an easy garden plant, inclined to flop. The flowers are lovely though and it came from a garden whose owner has sadly died, so I will hang on to it.
The weather is very fine but also breezy. The birch seed season has begun, which means that, depending which way the wind is blowing, all the windowsills on that side of the house, plus the bath and wash baisin, are covered in these little cross-shaped brown seeds. This will go on for about two months; ah me. I have been chopping again. Hacking all plants of Geranium sanguineum (which can spread for about three feet in all directions) right back to the heart and slashing Alchemilla mollis to the ground. I have too much of this but I like it with other cut flowers. I have pruned strictly the philadelphus bushes, Spiraea 'Goldflame' and the wretched escallonia which is really in the wrong place and needs clipping every month. I also took out the enormous flowering stems of Euphorbia mellifera. The bonfire heap is growing.