Perfect – slows things down nicely. The only thing I've ever successfully* grown from a seed and watched and nurtured is Fred. Everything else I've tried to grow has either got going a little bit then died, or just not got going at all. I really admire people who grow stuff, but it's just not in my bones. Whenever I turn on the car radio, at whatever time of day or night, Gardeners' Sodding Question Time is always on, taunting me: 'Celia from Surrey is wondering whether to transplant her triceratops meconium to a pot.' I understand as much of the programme ('Celia ...Surrey ... pot') as a cat would of a documentary on the Cold War, and yet I never turn it off immediately. I get a combination of nausea from listening to something that's completely uninteresting to me, but also a strange pleasure from listening to something that's in my language but meaningless to me. I get the same feeling from reading yachting magazines ('This month: Which asymmetric spinnaker furler is right for you?') or reading bridge columns, which would be ruined if I knew how to play bridge, or what a spinnaker even is.
I really do like the idea of growing something to eat, though, and am going in with determination. Well-worth-it's two for a pound offer has a limited range, and the choice was easy:
basil – because herbs are expensive to buy, and probably quick to grow (guessing – could take five years for all I know)
· chilli – because I'm going to do my own spin-off challenge of making Caroline Mackintosh's Chilli Jam™.
*not based on a survey of his teachers