Diary of a Nobody (part 4)

chrysanthemum displaySeptember and October turn out to be very busy months for our gardener. He spends huge amounts of time preparing blooms for various local shows — spraying them with Malathion, deshooting ( etc etc), wins some prizes, including a first place, is disappointed by failures ( is second out of three), resents the success of other exhibitors and moans about the rain destroying blooms. He is writing articles for the Chrysanthemum Society and visiting various national exhibitions in London.

Perhaps ashamed at his poor performances in the language while on holiday he enrols for  Italian classes at the famous Morley College, but as they fall on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, regrets that he might be a poor attender ( Chrysanthemums come first, no doubt!). He later attends some on Monday evenings. He pores over his holiday snaps, worries when some don’t arrive on time, and pastes the flowers he picked in Austria and Italy into an album. And for the first time we discover that he has children. It’s the first mention of them in his Diary—unless they are someone elses’ children. And his cycle journeys to his mum become more frequent. On one visit in September she cooks him a ‘smashing dinner ( chicken and Xmas pudd)’ . On another occasion he brings her some of his prize blooms, leading on 28thSeptember to the perhaps unique and certainly hilarious diary entry in the history of diaries—‘ visit Mum, take her some ‘ mums ‘.

He still doesn’t own a car or a TV set, but he does buy a spanking new hi-fi gramophone and wireless combined, which he feels is ‘pricey ‘ at £29 ( it is really, considering that his monthly salary is probably around £50). As ever, in the evening entertainment is confined to listening at home to light opera, a talk on the Third Programme, a radio play on the Home Service, or the occasional game of canasta at a friend’s home. He never seems to visit the pub with ‘the lads‘ from work. Perhaps the redoubtable Madge wouldn’t like him to.

In the afternoon of Sunday, 20th  October our gardener reported having collected “ wog “ for an hour in Wickham Street fields, not too far from his home. Back then wog was a disparaging word for a black person, or possibly anyone of colour ( some say it stood for western or wily or worthy  oriental gentleman ). Popularised by Alf Garnett in the sixties sitcom ‘Till Death Us Do Part’, it has now almost disappeared from polite discourse. The Internet offers no credible explanation for the term as used by our gardener. As it seems to have been a natural product it is possible that it was something that reminded those who gathered it of the ‘Afro’ hairstyle. Was it, for instance, the lichen that grows on certain trees? We at Jot HQ would welcome any credible explanations.


One thought on “Diary of a Nobody (part 4)

  1. freya

    In a WW2 memoir of imprisonment in Japan ‘Prisoner of the Samurai’ the author talks of a native weed known as ‘wog’ which they used to smoke as there was no tobacco. Could this be it?


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