Organised Showing Off

Re posted by popular demand, I had pulled it to tweak it, one or two people preferred it as it was.

The chap next to me on this train is watching the Chelsea Flower Show on his iPad.

This programme appears to be 95% design, lifestyle, aspiration and other forms of organised showing off. The main flower on show seems to be the narcissus in its various forms.

Overall this show has very little to do with growing things. I’m told the event itself, while being perhaps a little overly about being seen, is essentially about growing things.

I got really into gardening in my 20s. I am living my life in reverse and will spend my later years being recklessly hedonistic, perhaps I’ll move back to my parents. Anyway, I was lucky enough to own a house when I was 24 but was consequently a bit skint. Growing things was my bungee jumping.

I drifted away for lots of reasons, I got busy in other ways. We had our wonderful children and we bought another house, one that was falling apart. My drift also co incided with the evolution of gardening in popular culture, away from growing things to design and construction projects, from the doing, to the stuff and being seen to have it.

I’d have thought there was room in the vast TV schedules for some programmes about how to actually do things and how things work.

– How to grow things, there are none I can see in the schedule. 

– How to cook, to be fair, there are some of these, buried on channel 619, but prime time limits itself to the tearfully elaborate, time pressured, gamified dross that’s all about me.

– A programme about cars would be a great idea. I’m told lots of people, especially men, are very interested in cars. There isn’t a single show I can find that’s about this huge topic. Bizarre.

I’m going to tend my daffodils. Actually I’m going to tend some PowerPoint, it’s much the same thing.


6 thoughts on “Organised Showing Off

  1. I tend to agree on your observations regarding the Chelsea Flower Show. Whilst impressive and elaborate, I do get the feeling that it should be sponsored in the future by Jewson rather than Suttons Seeds since the focus appears to be on building stuff rather than growing stuff. Perhaps the Chelsea Building Show doesn’t have the same cachet.

    I am, however, puzzled by your observations regarding the lack of suitable programming in the TV schedules. Perhaps you are limiting your search criteria to the Freeview channels you can receive in a nuclear bunker. Or, more likely, you are engaging in what we in Surrey called “Hampshire Humour” (thinly veiled attempts at irony, usually wrapped up in topics about wellies, the village green, and the vicar’s new car).

    To your points:

    – How to grow things (Gardener’s World, The Constant Gardener, Ideal Gardening etc)
    – How to cook things (take your pick from almost any on the Good Food and Food Network channels, or BBC2 when they’re not showing programmes about how to grow things.)
    – Car shows.

    Hmmm. Car shows. Even people in Hampshire are subjected to Clarkson so I’m guessing this is the nadir of your Hampshire Humour at work.

    I like cooking, don’t much care about cars and I like a nice garden but only when someone else does all the hard work for me. So the idea of pruning daffodils seems a rather odd one to me, even when they subsequently appear on a slab of concrete in SW3.

  2. There are doubtless lots of less narcissistic cooking and gardening shows buried in the vast array of channels I have but never ever watch on  Sky. As far as I can tell I have that solely for cricket, which I then don’t have time to watch anyway. There might even be a magazine show about cars people actually drive somewhere in the schedule.

    Prime time, on channels people watch, is the problem, where most of the shows drive me nuts. The focus is on the self, tedious gamification and thinly veiled marketing.

    Top Gear is a pub conversation between a bully, his horrid side kick and a nerd, loosely based on cars.

    I probably ought to give The Constant Gardener a go.

    Anyway,  I’m horribly unqualified as a TV critic. I don’t think I’ve turned it on this week.

    • I’m sure you’d be able to find Fanny Craddock repeats somewhere in the depths of the Sky EPG. She was very factual and instructional although would also probably score 11/10 on the narcissism scale too. But then you can’t have your cake and eat it. (I’m here all week, try the cheesecake.)

      I have different worries about so-called “prime” time. It’s not that the TV schedulers throw up – metaphorically and possibly physically – the same diet of sit-com and soap opera drivel, but that the masses actually like watching them. I despair that TV has been dumbed down, and intelligence eroded, to the point that Danny Dyer, a man so totally devoid of any sign of life or intelligence that he may be the first example of a human-parkbench hybrid, still gets top ratings and 14m viewers on a regular basis with his guttural mumblings. And don’t get me started on TOWIE.

      I can only think that the majority of the population have their brains wired differently to yours and mine. But I disagree that you are unqualified as a critic. I think, if anything, you are over-qualified. It’s just that you’re as amazed as I am that you fund a TV industry that happily delivers drivel into your home – Top Gear included – and there’s nothing you can do about it.

      Now do something sensible and go and watch a TV show called Blacklist. THAT is what TV ought to be like.

      • TV channels are like friends. The fewer I have the better they are. The more diverse, interesting, funny, challenging.

        There might be a blog in that. I’ve been ruminating on the tyranny of choice and how it tends to lead to the safe and the bland.

        Meanwhile I’m hoisted by my own petard with Coldplay, chewing gum for the mind (surely the title of said blog) jangling beigely in my ears.



  3. I agree that the Chelsea Flower Show’s secondary purpose appears to be things that grow in the garden. The primary purpose is yet another “spot the celebrity” event. I can’t think of anything (other than Top Gear) I would be less inclined to watch on TV. In terms of programme choice, there is rather too much choice, which means that the odd jewel of a programme is unlikely to be spotted amongst the juvenile, quizzing, sporty, soapy selection. I find the radio so much more rewarding. And music too…thanks for reminding me that Coldplay has another beige selection out – although I understand that this one has lots of heartbreak and misery included, so that will cheer me up no end!

    • I have several digital radios, each with a zillion channels, with the exception of the odd retune for test match special, each remains welded to Radio 4.

      Andrew is right, there are some how to shows buried in the schedules. I’m too busy, lazy, bewildered to find them.

      I keep meaning to ramble about the tyranny of choice and about how we also get fed what people (eg amazon) think we like, for ever. 

      I like my random fads but some channels with variety appeal too. Spare me from “the cooking channel” etc.

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