Friday, October 27, 2006

Trowel and Error

By Alan Titchmarsh

For my dad...

I remember long summer evening with relatives, sitting round, sipping ice tea, telling stories of childhood -- of adventures with cousins, of dinners at each others houses, of getting a switch with a willow branch, of 'the log picture,' of an innocence that is hard to find these days. Of my own childhood, I almost remember riding bikes until dusk with my brother and playing in the mud. Or was it catching snails?

A few years ago I happened across Alan Titchmarsh's 'memoirs.' Known to me from BBC America and my dad's love of the brass band, and gardens, featured on 'Ground Force,' I was oddly drawn to this story of a gardener. Titchmarsh presents a wry series of vignettes -- of innocence, first loves, and hard work; but most of all following your dreams and passions even if they seem to lead you unlikely places.

Having left school at 15, Titchmarsh shares how staying true to him passions, gardening and writing, over the past half century have lead him on an extraordinary journey including working at Kew, meeting Julia Roberts, surprising Nelson Mandela, being knighted, and writing romantic fiction. Dubbed 'the second sexiest man on television' (behind George Clooney), it is hard not to see why. His warm humor and unassuming nature create a wonderfully nostalgic look at life, at a time when it is rare to see children playing outside unsupervised or after dark.

If you remember days of climbing trees and skinned knees, I highly recommend this heart-warming reflection on good fortune and the importance of following your dreams. It will leave you with a chuckle and smile. (And his command of the English language is amazing -- keep that dictionary handy!)

Next Up:
Jon McGregor's If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things

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