I Was Transfixed

Ace Reclamation delivered our rose garden furniture this morning, and Jackie and I set it up.

Rose Alan Titchmarsh has bloomed.

Alan Fred Titchmarsh, MBE, DL, (b. 2.5.49) , was the subject of quite a bit of banter on yesterday’s post, but, in all seriousness, if anyone deserves to have a rose named after him it is this well known garden expert. An English gardener, broadcaster, and novelist after working as a professional gardener and a gardening journalist, he has established himself as a media personality through appearances on TV gardening programmes, the current one being ‘Love Your Garden’. In this series, members of the public who have been nominated by others for his garden makeover are the recipients of an instant, themed, creation.

Elsewhere in the garden many scented roses, like Compassion are well into their second flowering.

Here is a view of the Shady Path across the Dragon’s Bed:

Elizabeth visited briefly for lunch.

This afternoon Aaron finished his paving, by carefully inserting fiddly bits he had cut out with an angle grinder. Along the eastern fence lies old timber and spikes for him to build a support for climbers on that side. The lighter wood just visible is our old stair rail. The view is from the bench.

Others are from the entrance; from the rose arch; from Elizabeth’s bed; and from the second armchair.

Whilst digging a hole for a rose, quite some way down, Jackie unearthed another historic coin of the realm. What’s historic about a 1983 £1? If thirty two years doesn’t seem a particularly long time ago, you may well ask.

When was the first £1 coin issued? You’ve guessed it. Jackie may well have dug up one of the very first minted. It bears a young head of the current Queen, Elizabeth II, and has clearly not benefited from perhaps more than three decades underground. When this piece was shiny and new in April 1983 it would have bought a packet of 20 cigarettes, five pints of milk or 30 minutes at a Manchester United match. Today you pay closer to £8 for the fags, £2.50 for the milk and see only three minutes of the football. But some things are cheaper: while £1 would only get you four minutes on a landline phone call at peak time in 1983, today it would give you at least 10 minutes.

Kept in a soil, gravel, and clay safe, its value has not really been enhanced.

Throughout my first 41 years £1 sterling was paper money. It wasn’t even the lowest denomination note. Until decimalisation in 1971, that was ten shillings or 50% of £1. These notes both feature in ‘Then The Tableau Spoke’. I found two at different times before about 1952. It was then worth taking one to the police station and handing them in as found property. If such items were unclaimed after one month, they were yours. I recovered each one.

Nowadays, I doubt whether anyone would consider £5 to be worth going to that trouble. Our current £5 note is a pathetic little scrap in comparison with the “White Fiver” of my first fifteen years. The 1793 design, with black printing on white paper, remained in circulation essentially unchanged until 21 February 1957, when the multicoloured notes were first introduced. You could still use the old note until it was withdrawn on 13 March 1961.

When I was about seven, I found myself in a shop, probably queueing.  I really don’t know what the establishment was, or who was with me.  But I can still see the large, thin, sheet of printed paper measuring, I now know, 211mm x 133mm, brandished by a gentleman. ‘Know what that is, boy?’ he asked. The question was rhetorical. He quickly followed up with the answer. ‘A £5 note’. So transfixed was I by that object that I have no idea what the man looked like.  I’d never heard of such a sum, and never saw another “White Fiver”.

This evening I watched the highlights of the second day of the Edgbaston Ashes Test. England completed their first innings with a lead of 145. Australia followed this with 168 for 7. In other words, a five day match was virtually over in two days.

Our dinner consisted of chicken Kiev, chips, and baked beans. I know, It sounds dicey, but it was delicious, especially with the Georges du Beuf beujolais 3 villages 2013 Danni and Andy gave me for my birthday. Jackie, of course, drank Hoegaarden.

P.S. After posting this, we watched a TV adaptation of Agatha Christie’s ‘A Secret Adversary’, starring Jessica Raine and David Walliams. Very early on, Jessica Raine’s character had her mouth stuffed with screwed up flimsy paper I instantly recognised as a “White Fiver”.


  1. The rose garden is amazing. Amazing!
    When I was a little kid my older brothers and sisters would swap my sixpences and thrupences for pennies. The pennies were bigger and I thought therefore more valuable!

  2. Wow! As Bruce says…Amazing! Thanks for the pic as the genesis of yesterdays discussion – lovely rose! And, of course, the gentleman in question has all our respect! Great pics again Derrick!

  3. I can see that you’ll have a lovely view wherever you’ll sit in the garden. Thanks for sharing the shaping of a new rose garden and new blooms everyday. I enjoyed your memory of money.

  4. Those white fivers were enormous – and something of a liability. Some local shops wouldn’t take them, as it would mean cleaning out the change in the till, especially early in the day. Back then, as you will recall, that could represent almost half of the week’s wages for the average working man.

  5. We continue to be enthralled by your garden and flower photos. And we must admit to not a small measure of envy. The old five pound note must have been huge.

  6. Engerland, Engerland, Engerland! Yay! Ten Bob notes were so exciting when ever I got one from my grandmothers for birthdays or Christmas – not often since that was a lot of cash. And once we had that Alan Titchmarsh in our garden when they used it to film a commercial form Ground Force with Charlie Thingy and Billy Wotsit. They built a pergola which we kept and still survives.

  7. Great story of the 5 pound note! How neat to have that memory.

    But oh! I love your garden. The paving is beautiful; what a nice job. I can look at the photos and see it in two years when everything is grown up and looks established instead of brand new and hopeful. I expect there will be frequent stops in the chairs to ensure that everything is going along. Look at how happy Jackie is in her realm. Is is possible that little glint in her eye is because she’s thinking about her Alan T?

  8. Found treasures and gardening sounds like a fun. I can’t believe they used the same looking money for so long. It’s really beautifully decorated. Looks like pirate money more than real money, hehe. The garden is so pretty, lot’s of work I’m sure but worth it in the end.

  9. Found this linked to your current post – hasn’t the garden changed over the years? A lot of white fivers have names and addresses and shop stamps on the back – the boss hates to se it but I think it’s part of the history, when it really was a significant sum.

      1. A belt sander is an electric tool with acoil of heavy-duty sand paper that circulates around to sand flat objects and unfortunately my finger came in contact with it which resulted in a lot of blood and now difficulty in typing. I seem to be accident-prone lately.

  10. What an interesting coincidence that you saw a white fiver in a movie after writing this musing… wow! The rose garden looks great! Aaron did a wonderful job on crafting that pathway.

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