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The Laz word: Twisted plots

As councillors call for more allotment space in the city, Larry Neild digs the dirt without beating about the bush

Published on October 27th 2009.

The Laz word: Twisted plots

IT was probably after watching a repeat of the Good Life on the telly I dallied with the idea of getting an allotment. But my mind was made up in a fraction of the time it takes a seeded sprout to germinate. It seemed too much like hard work.

Councillors in Liverpool, though, in the spirit of the Land Army want more allotment space to be found to cope with growing demand. Recent figures reveal over 5,000 people are on a waiting list for allotments across Merseyside, Cheshire and West Lancashire.

During my brief encounter with Mother Earth, I went on a soil-searching expedition to find out exactly what owning an allotment entails. And it’s not all happy apple picking.

No doubt there are allotment sheds that are secret love nests, as portrayed on Plot 89 in Bread’s close encounters between Lilo Lil and Freddie Boswell.

The Sefton Park allotment site was used for Carla Lane’s famous sitcom, no doubt elevating it to a Cultural Gem in Liverpool.

There is, I discovered, a lot to think about before signing on the dotted line. It may seem those part-time cultivators are creating furrows where every manner of veg can be grown. Except perhaps it's trenches that are needed: It can, I’m warned, be open warfare down there on the allotments. Sprouts and cabbages at 20 paces and no mucking about.

“Our chairman behaves like a little Hitler,” one allotment escapee whispered to me. “The way he runs the site with his SS helpers in tow would have even Captain Mainwaring quivering in his wellies.”

You get the impression allotments are battlegrounds where the SAS (Spade and Shovel Irregulars) take on anyone challenging the authority of the allotment committee.

My spy – name withheld for safety reasons (and he’s not kidding) – said “I had an allotment for years. It got me out of the house and in the fresh air, but the strict rules and regular harassment from the chairman and his

committee made me ill. I gave up my plot. I was suffering from nervous stress.”

He’s having me on, I thought. Oh, no. Another plot holder at another site told me: “One of our members received the most appalling attacks from the chairman and committee because they said she’s allowed her plot to go to the dogs.

“The woman was gravely ill and there was no way she could look after her allotment at that time, but they told her to clean up or get out.

Why, I pondered, when the committee heard of the woman’s plight did they not gather a group of volunteers (they seem after all to be organised on military lines) and do the cleaning up for her?

“The chairman just didn’t care. He wanted the plot to be tidied up and it was her problem. There was no excuse,” replied Mr X.

The machinations behind the potting sheds doesn't surprise me. Over many years I have found a little power in the hands of community activists can spread a lot of dismay.

No, I think I’ll bury the idea. Why grow your own when there are so many Tescos around providing ready chopped and washed veg straight from the chiller!

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15 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Bill and BenOctober 26th 2009.

Slobadob! Leave our allotments alone. We have had one for years and never heard a whiff of scandal or rum goings-on. Though we must admit we get a little cross when we see somebody else's sprayed fertiliser drifting towards our organic sprouts. And perish the thought of our good friend Miss Weed coming a cropper. Perhaps we had better keep our ears to the ground.

GrobagOctober 26th 2009.

I have been on the waiting list for four years for an allotment on Wirral. It really is a disgrace. What about turning Liverpool garden festival sites into allotments?

DigOctober 26th 2009.

Me disgusting? That's a turnip for the books. I am sorry tho. Will you lettuce off?

ReefermanOctober 26th 2009.

perhaps they can bulldoze some of those flats that nobody lives in and put some allottments there.

DigOctober 26th 2009.

I'm very sure. I can still feel the itch I was scratching.

GazbyOctober 26th 2009.

Are you sure it's your head you're scratching in that picture? Dig?

Dill the DogOctober 26th 2009.

Oh yes?

Esther RantzenOctober 26th 2009.

Thank you Cyril

Parsley the LionOctober 26th 2009.

May I be Prime Minsiter of Herbia?

Helen POctober 26th 2009.

Bit late for that

AnonymousOctober 26th 2009.

I feel soiled

Liverpool wagOctober 26th 2009.

Dig, you are dig-sgusting

Slobadob MilosevicOctober 26th 2009.

We will ethnically cleanse the fertiliser folk from our allotments and found a new, pure Greater Herbia

DigOctober 26th 2009.

Referring to the Stephanie De Leng article, 'Figures of Hate'. How did the naked picture she took of me find it's way onto a Laz article about allotments? I'm scratching my head trying to work it out.

Mrs Q CumberOctober 26th 2009.

Seeing as most kids in Liverpool don't eat their greens why do we need any allotments, let alone more. They should turn the allotment sites into much needed car parking spaces to get cars off the road.

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