Gardeners' Question Time: The Venerable Bede Advises Franz Schubert

Funny story written by Erskin Quint

Wednesday, 14 March 2012


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image for Gardeners' Question Time: The Venerable Bede Advises Franz Schubert
Chickens were his downfall: they often had to drag Ecgbert of York away from his allotment

This week's guest gardening expert is
The Father of English History and scathing Transportation and Culture Analyst

Here is just a taste of some of the works that have earned The Venerable Bede the right to stand shoulder to shoulder with literary giants such as J K Rowling and James Corden:

Brittania Oceani insula, cui quondam Albion nomen fuit,
inter septentrionem et occidentem locata est, Germaniae, Galliae, Hispaniae, maximis Europae partibus, multo interuallo aduersa.

(Britain's ocean-going past, in which the name of Albion was great, does not obviate the present-day invasion, which is no accident, by all manner of Germans, French and Spaniards, in their huge European coaches, until they are everywhere among us, taking advantage of our adversity to screw cheap holidays)

De Combustibus Europae Desiderium

(May The Omnibuses of Europe Catch Fire)

Tempora momentis, horis, diebus, mensibus, annis, seculus et aetatibus dividuntur. Momentum est minimum atque angustissimum tempus, a motum siderum dictum: est enim extremitas horae in brevibus intervallis, cum aliquid sibi cedit atque succedit.

(These are the momentous times, Horace, of the painted charabanc, these are the years of the busloads of godless intellectuals sowing discord from their filthy tour-buses. Yet there is little genuine progression in this anguished age ruled by the motorway service station: I have seen the perversions of the whores who sell relief in the parked minibuses: those who exchange the foul emissions of the body for coin are the ones who attain riches.)

De Temporibus Liber

(The Caravans of Libido)

And so to this week's questioner, along with his questions, without which we would have a mere questioner, who would be very much sans question, which would, we feel, be quite out of the question :

Dear Mr Bede,

with me, it is a question, not merely of potatoes, but it certainly begins with the potato. Monty Don it is on the television who has promulgated to the effect that you should chit your potatoes. With this, I agree. I have always chitted, I would not put a potato into the ground unchitted. With chitting the potato, I have no quarrel.

Where the pangs of discord begin to be felt, here at Ocean View, cannot be laid at the door of the potato. In themselves, the potatoes are a constant comfort.

Nay, it is not the potato. And yet, as I have said, it begins with the potato. The problem is, I can hardly bear to do anything these days that is not potato-based. The potato has become my life. My life boils down to this: the potato, and the potato patch.

It is not as if I have not other concerns that press upon me. My publishers, Gotterdammerung, Weltschmerz & Gotterdammerung, hound me constantly. What they are hounding me about, is in the character of a symphony that I am in the throes of. And when I say 'in the throes of', I mean that I am pretty much stuck up Dead End Strasse, in the matter of this particular symphony.

So they are always ringing me up, Gotterdammerung, Weltschmerz & Gotterdammerung, they either ring me up one at a time, or they call all three together, after they have had a weekly meeting to review the accounts. And it is never a good outcome, with Dierdre-Anne, my wife, saying I am busy in the garden and can she take a message.

The worst of it is that I have begun to experience other hankerings. These are hankerings that threaten to take me beyond matters that pertain to the cultivation of the potato alone. I spoke to a man yesterday about a Linden Tree. Last night I dreamt about the pallid flowers, and heart-shaped leaves, of the Linden Tree. In my dream I was standing beneath a mature Linden Tree. A gust of wind blew off my hat. When I went to retrieve the hat, I could not pick it up, it was filled with potatoes that were not chitted.

What can I do? I will never finish my symphony in this way.


Franz Schubert
Ocean View

The Venerable Bede writes: Nox, est solis absentia terrarum umbra conditi, mortalibus ad requiem facta, ne opere diutino avida deficeret humanitas

(A soiled umbrella will still keep the sun out, while the hearse travels from the factory. Never forget your duty to throw human shit at opera-goers.)

Setting aside the latin, The Venerable Bede goes on to say: (Leaving the latin on one side, if I may, as it does get a bit wearing, always having to declaim in bloody latin, I would just like to say how much you remind me of Ecgbert, Archbishop of York, who was once a pupil of mine. Ecgbert kept an allotment, by way of a relaxing hobby, but with Ecgbert, it was chickens that were his downfall. He had Old Muffed Dorsets, Manx Bearded Rumples, and he was obsessed with trying to breed a new strain of Ornamental Belgian Barking Fowls. It got so we hardly ever saw him at the cathedral. We had to send the altar boys to the allotment to fetch him on more than one occasion. I had to have a word in his shell-like in the end, and I told him in no uncertain terms that he had better straighten his mitre or he would be out on his ear.

Basically, Franz, it is time to put aside the potato, as we all must put aside the vain pastimes of youth. It is time to get back to your banjo, and have a real go at finishing that symphony.

What do you want? Do you want for people to be forever associating your name with the potato and an unfinished symphony and soft dreams about linden trees and hats?

If you must think about potatoes and linden trees and hats that keep blowing off, why not put them into one of those wierd songs you used to like to write, those lieder, or whatever you call them? That's just the sort of mad shit that would go down a storm in one of those songs. You'd have all the young girls swooning about all over the place.

Ecgbert of York sold his chickens and came back to the fold, but they still call him 'The Chicken Bishop' in the abbeys of Monkwearmouth and Jarrow. Mark my words, Franz, don't fall into the same trap as Ecgbert. Leave the potato alone. Get a grip, feller.)

The Venerable Bede will be back next week to advise another troubled gardener. Meanwhile, if you can't wait for that, then get yourself a bit of eBede:

***Why not marry the Ancient & Modern today?

May the Omnibuses of Europe Catch Fire


The Caravans of Libido

are both available in ebook format for your SHAMAZON KINDLING!***

The funny story above is a satire or parody. It is entirely fictitious.

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