... really like at all these bonsai shows I go to - if I'm being very honest - is not so much the trees, as the wonderfully quirky personalities I have met in the the past 15 years.
Lots of the people I like and talk about on Twitter and on this blog would not consider themselves as 'big names' in the British or international bonsai scene. But many of them have been growing and displaying trees longer than I have; many of them have a lot of specialist knowledge in both horticultural and unrelated areas; and many of them are able to convey that knowledge with passion and humour. And many of them are great for just standing around and chewing the fat with.
Unfortunately I haven't sought out their permission to tell you of what each of them have told me in the past weekend - for example - so no names named, OK? Let's see... the juicy bits started during the lull after lunch. Things went quiet so a bunch of us just gathered around to chat. I think we started with someone receiving a proposal of marriage from two (yes, plural!) inebriated young ladies; then on to cross-dressing, which led to gay bars in the area. For some reason that went on to the feasibility of doing a bonsai demonstration with scantily clad assistants (don't ask), then on to nude sculpture, which led back to the gay bars (we have one-track minds). Which of course went on to the television programming that the BBC lays on us - whether for good or ill - and to the TV license fee that we have to pay over here.
Not bad - from the ridiculous to the sublime, isn't it? Or not, I guess, depending on how you feel toward paying your TV license.
And no, it's not all scandalous gossip, unfortunately :D
The rest of the day was spent discussing how to correctly ascertain if one of my needle junipers is a rigida or a communis (verdict - check the big Hilliers Encyclopedia), interviewing the holder of a 6th dan in Iaidō (oh my, oh my, oh my; not many of them walking around) and receiving a wonderfully insightful description of historical vs modern-day usage of netsuke, inro and ojime. Not to forget coffee and cake, and of course, lunch. Far be it from me to attend a bonsai show and starve. *shudders*
Not bad for a day's (non)work, right?