An update from Mr Scrimshaw

I am to gardening what a crowd of sports fans is to quiet contemplation – something of a stranger! Beyond knowing that the roots go downwards, the leaves go upwards and that rain and sun are vital – I’m no use to anybody. However, from what I gather, growing strawberries is something of a knack. They must be carefully planted in the right kind of soil and the right kind of place. They must be given adequate sun and rain, and protected as they grow from slugs which slither and birds which swoop. When the time comes they need straw placed around them (preferably barley straw) to hold the moisture and prevent the soft fruit from lying on the ground. Do all this – and the result is a delicious summertime fruit – or is it?

Can you spot the difference between the two strawberries below? The one on the left is naturally grown in season, and the other has been force-grown out of season. They look the same – but the difference, and the disappointment, would all be in the flavour.

Images: essentially and

Last week, with some regret, I took the decision in consultation with Saint Andrew Press to delay the publication of Jonah: poet in extremis. In this way I can have another five months to work on it, rather than rushing it through by the end of February. In this way, like the strawberry grown in season, it can have the maximum flavour.

Over the next five months I need to:

  • strengthen and deepen the narrative passages of the book
  • conduct further research on the retelling of Jonah over the centuries
  • polish and refine

If you’ve not already joined the Scrimshaw group (details here) your company would be very welcome for the rest of the journey.

When its through, perhaps we can celebrate with a nice bowl of…strawberries!