Somewhere, round the back, English Heritage has a unit to rival anything dreamed up by a Bond villain. A laboratory so supreme in its ability to juggle plant genes that it makes DEFRA looks like a bunch of nine year olds making a collage out of pine cones.
For yesterday, people, I discovered their secret! Well, not their secret, actually, more the fact that they have a secret. Yesterday I discovered English Heritage Grass.
All casually I suggested a visit to Kirkham Abbey, you see. It's a picturesque little priory in a nice little valley with a bridge and a river and a very good pub, and we fancied a bit of a potter out, what with me having been confined to barracks recently, writing notes for my talk to the IASPR (which I shall tell you about after I've finished breaking the news about the grass...). So, in my quest for fresh air, we took ourselves off to the Abbey for a poke among some ancient brickwork, which is always therapeutic, and I come back feeling that my falling-down house isn't quite so bad after all because at least it's still got a roof, and bits of the windows still close, and everything. And whilst there...well. Just take a look.
Do you see that grass? Not the spiky brown stuff, that clearly hasn't been anywhere near any kind of genetic technology, but the green stuff in the background? That, by the way, is part of Kirkham Abbey, it's not my house, despite bearing certain resemblances in the 'falling down' department. But look at the green stuff! And it's not just green, oh no. It's all kind of cushioney and bouncy! When you walk on it, it's like walking on the grass you were always told you weren't allowed to walk on when you were a child! Like a cross between bowling green and municipal gardens! The kind of grass that you want to tear your clothes off and roll around on stark naked going 'numnumnumnum' and making a sort of purring noise....oh. Just me then.
So how, if they don't have vast experimental laboratories somewhere in the heart of a mountain, do they manage to get such grassy grass? That's what I want to know. Here, for example, is some normal grass...
Do you see the way it's all sort of greyish and brownish? No, it's not moving, that's the water in the background. The grass is the big bit in the front. Tufty and a bit yellow round the edges. Now look up again, paying specific attention to the bright greenness.
Genetic experimentation. Got to be. Would never have thought it of English Heritage, what with them having to upkeep all those ruins and things but..well. Next thing you'll be telling me that the National Trust have worked out a way to breed humans that are born aged 65 and come out with a picnic rug under one arm and a photograph of their grandchildren under the other.....
And, in other news, I spoke to the IASPR in York. The International Association for the Study of Popular Romance who were having their Annual Conference in the city. I'm not entirely sure what I said, but I know that people laughed a lot, and I told the story about the Jehova's Witnesses and the Big Black Cock (which was a thing that actually happened to me, but isn't nearly as exciting as the title makes it sound). I also pontificated (which, contrary to my initial beliefs, is nothing to do with either bridges or popes) about being a romantic comedy novelist. And, because several of those there present were American (or presumably still are, hearing me talk not being enough to make anyone want to change nationality, apart from some people who instantly want to become Australian or Greek or anything that I'm not, in an attempt to dissociate themselves from me), I found out that romantic novelists are treated a lot better in the States. There, they are feted! Or it might be fated, I forgot to ask... Or even foetid. Either way they have a better time of it than us over here where romantic comedy is like the Bottom Table of novels and we're only allowed to talk to the Sci Fi writers and romance is a bit of a second-class citizen all round.
Ah well. Since I am British I am stoic and therefore completely used to being asked what I do for a real job, or being told that anybody can write a book if they've got enough time, and all that stuff. So I shall just grit my teeth and get on with writing and, on my days off, going to the English Heritage headquarters to find out what it is they do to their grass and if they'd like to experiment on some people of my acquaintance....
Squirrel Stationery for #NationalStationeryWeek -
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