I must confess to being a pig in shit at the moment. I am Slog of Greengages, mooching round this land of almost biblical plenty, scrumping figs, picking prunes and mirabelles, hunting out wild damsons and – best of all – blackberrying.
When my kids were small, I remember we took a long weekend down in Cornwall. It was mid October, but the weather God beamed upon us and donated four days of Indian Summer. I still have a picture of my younger daughter aged about four, a colander of blackberries in her hands: there was a grin over a mile wide on her face, and most of that grin was surrounded by blackberry juice.
The downside of blackberries is that you have to plough into the mother-ship of brambles to get them, and in that sense they are a sort of metaphor for life: ‘no gain without pain’, as Jane Fonda suggested, before turning an entire generation into one great big ligament and muscle crisis. There is a similar parallel in that the best fruit somehow seem always to be just out of reach: I’m not sure the grass is always greener in the next field, but I’m absolutely certain that the ripest blackberries are always in that part of the bramble where only those sporting salmon waders can reach them.
Somehow, you just know (yes you do) that Donald Trump would go blackberrying, and hire a helicopter to winch him down to the shiny, juicy ripe berries in the thick of the patch. Grant Shapps would get there early, pick all the easily available fruit, and then claim on the internet he’d hired a helicopter to get them from the middle. Stephen Crabb would drive several naked 1950s Waspi women into the patch to get the best fruit – on the promise of a fat reward afterwards….and then bugger off without paying. And of course, Jeremy Corbyn would scrupulously ensure that everyone’s panier of blackberries was exactly the same size, before disappearing into his jam laboratory for a week.
I’m not sure what Owen Smith would do. His first question would probably be “What’s a blackberry?” and then he’d lobby Parliament about wicked serfs illegally stealing blackberries from Tony Blair’s Sussex estate.
I have fewer doubts, however, about Hillary Clinton’s approach. First she’d borrow money from Goldman Sachs to buy the entire stretch of bramble-rich coastline. Then she’d hire a bunch of interns to harvest the crop on the grounds that it was all going to Allagibya in Africa in order to save 3 million African victims of fgm, having first established that the Allagibyan government had just found the biggest oilfield in the world. Then she’d arm the Opposition Jihadists who committed all the fgm in the first place. Then President Assein of Allagibyan would appeal to the US for help. And then she’d blame it all on Brexit.
Listen – you can tell a lot about people based on how they go about blackberrying.
* You have to be really old to get this reference….it’s to a song recorded by Roy Wood and The Move in 1968. For me, it remains one of the great pop anthems. You can listen to it here.