Remember fantasy football? Everyone went crazy for it a decade or two ago, before they had t’internet and such like. You got to pick your ultimate dream team: Pele playing alongside Beckham, Maradona in midfield, Gascoigne and Best playing keepie-uppie in the goalmouth. You don’t have to worry about such irritations as money, geography, availability, continued existence; just put ‘em all together and see what happens.
I think I’m going to take the same approach with my Christmas present requests this year.
I’ve had enough of hiding under a cloak of ‘well if you can afford it…’ and ‘if it’s available…’. Nope: enough shilly-shallying, I’m going for broke: absolute honesty.
This is my ultimate fantasy Christmas presents wishlist: or, to put it more bluntly, what I’d really like for Christmas.
1. A nice mild spring with no frost and just the right amount of rain
2. A long warm summer when the sun is hot but not too hot and there’s just enough rain to keep droughts at bay
3. Oh, dammit, a perfect climate - I once went to Grenada in the Caribbean where it’s a constant 27°C year-round. I’d add a good amount of rainfall between the hours of, say, 2am and 6am and at no other time. Yep, that would about do it.
4. The complete eradication of late blight from the face of the earth so I can have my tomatoes back.
5. A strapping young man, about once a week No, no, no NO. Put that smutty thought back in its box and pay attention. I just want someone strong, energetic and cheerful who can do hedges, lawns and perhaps the odd bit of weeding. That’s all. Really.
6. A big wooden drying shed for herbs and vegetables and flowers, with a through draught and lots of windows to let in a beautifully diffuse light.
7. A natural (but not too serious) disaster resulting in the total extinction of slugs while avoiding any collateral damage. Though it could probably do for cabbage white caterpillars as well and I wouldn’t mind too much.
8. The extension of daylength to around 48 hours so I can still write and also spend all day in the garden.
9. The power of telekinesis whereby I could move heavy bags of compost, shift mulch, lay paving slabs and position scaffold boards simply by thinking about it.
10. A medium-sized lottery win to be able to afford the amazing amount of gorgeous plants I’d want to plant in the spectacular garden I’d have if I got all of the above in my stocking this year.
But I’m not that demanding: if you run into availability problems for any of the above, there are a few things which might make acceptable alternatives.
An outdoor brazier: another fantasy of mine, but one which I know is actually possible: you’re all standing outside at a party, it’s minus-something temperatures, but you don’t care because you’re warming your hands on one of these fabulous barbecue-cum-bonfires.
Some fruit trees: you’ll have to consult my little black book for this one as I have comprehensive requirements, but I’m on the hunt for trees for the orchard again: top of the list for this winter are Mirabelle plums, Asian pears and perhaps a bullace or damson.
A pair of knee protectors: prosaic and practical, I know, but I’m fed up with having knees that look like someone’s been experimenting on them with a hole punch.
A potting bench: as large as possible, please, with big deep sides and a generous shelf beneath where I can keep my pots, and maybe a stool and a spot for the radio. At the moment I make do with a makeshift table hastily shunted out into the garden and it just ain’t the same.
A bronze lantern cloche: I’m planning a little potager for next year in which I plan to grow flowers, fruit, herbs and vegetables in a higgledy-piggledy of loveliness. Allotment-style recycled tattiness is banished, so I’m looking for plant protection that’s as pretty as what’s underneath.