A number two hit in 1964 for the Dave Clark Five with the so-called Tottenham Sound emanating from the Mecca Tottenham Royal in Tottenham High Road. The group was fronted by the drummer Dave Clark and singer come keyboard player Mike Smith. My memory of them was Dave Clark’s drum kit was placed higher than the rest of the group and he sat at his stool grinning continuously and thumping the drums as hard as he could in a constant rhythm – subtlety wasn’t his strongest point. Mike Smith, as I remember, was a smart-arsed looking Eastender who stood at the keyboards snarling sideways towards the camera. But they were successful, both in the UK and the States. Their first hit, Feeling Glad All Over, was a number one in both places, plus being a nightmare for any woman named Gladys.

A few sad facts about them were that Dave Clark fancied himself as a businessman and became very successful at making money. One of his ventures was a musical called Time, which opened at the Dominion Theatre in 1986 and featured Laurence Olivier in one of his last roles, albeit as a pre-recorded hologram. The “live” star of the show was Cliff Richard – enough said.

Another sad fact is the Dave Clark Five were originally the Dave Clark Quintet but changed because they didn’t think anyone would understand what quintet meant. And the really sad note is that in 2003, Mike Smith fell and damaged his spinal cord while trying to climb the gate at his Spanish home, became paralysed, and died four years later in Stoke Mandeville Hospital, aged 64. It’s much safer having an allotment.

Anyway, a few bits and pieces.

A mentioned a few blogs ago that Made in Britain meant very little when it came to spades, in that very nearly all spades are manufactured in China or India, and after the minimal of final touches in the UK, can be labelled as Made in Britain.

In the December edition of the RHS Garden magazine there is an article that says that this practice is equally true of plants. It quotes a Kent nurseryman as saying that a viburnum plant can start as a cutting in Uganda, before being rooted in the Netherlands, and then potted on in a UK nursery – and labelled as UK grown. Funny old world. The article promotes the notion that there should be greater traceability on plants, especially with the threat of the bacterial disease Xyella. It states that presently 75 percent of plant imports are from Holland, but that is falling steadily following the Brexit vote. However, there isn’t enough nursery capacity to cope with the increased demand – and nurserymen are reluctant to invest in expanding capacity because – you’ve guessed it, Brexit.

So what’s happening on the plot? Curiosity not only killed the cat, who incidentally had a wonderfully named lead singer called Martin Benedict Volpeliere-Pierrot (you don’t get many of those to the pound), but has got the better of me to see how my Oca are doing. The expert blurb tells me I must be patient and wait until a hard frost, but I’ve dived in and scraped a few tubers out. They haven’t any size but are gloriously coloured. And the taste – welllll rather bland with a hint of nuttiness. But they are totally edible, so I’ll persevere – I roasted them this time but I’ll try other ways.

My try of getting new potatoes for Christmas Day failed - again. I planted some Carlingford in pots as recommended at the end of August. They grew very well for the first two months and then at the beginning of November the foliage wilted and died back. Some small potatoes have developed but only about one meals’ worth in each pot – so really not worth it. I think I’ll give it a miss next year.

Other things happening on the plot. For, I think, the first time ever, I will be picking tomatoes in December, not many, but a few. These are plants growing in the pollytunnel, I guess there hasn’t been a proper frost yet to kill the plants off. Well Donald, is this climate change or merely weather.

Also still being harvested are carrots, sweet potatoes, beetroots, perpetual spinach, leeks, parsnips, lettuce, pak choi, 60 day raab broccoli, cabbages, and kale. Quite a lot still really. An interesting thing about kale. Why is it that birds will pick away at all other brassicas if left unprotected, but won’t touch kale – is there something about kale we don’t know?

And of course there are the crops for next year all planted now. Onion sets, garlic, shallots, broad beans, and my sweet peas which are sheltering under the cold frame. Plus at home there are the sweet potato cuttings for next year and the physallis seedlings. I’ll sow some onion seeds in a couple of weeks, but otherwise that’s it for this year. It all starts again in the new year.

Keep plotting

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