Saturday 12th May 2012 A week ago, I wrote (OK, ranted if you prefer) about a bizarre email I received from someone who used the contact form to get in touch. In late April, I received what might also be described as a bizarre enquiry but this time it was bizarre in a very good way.
I’ve waited until now to write about it because I wanted to have the full story to tell.
Normally, I don’t name my correspondents; there is no reason to and identifying them adds nothing to the story. In this case, for reasons that will become clear later on, there is no reason not to say that I received a contact form from Kris Hofmann.
Kris is a filmmaker who had been commissioned to make a promotional video for the spring 2012 edition of Granta. The theme of the edition is new writing about Britain and Kris had been asked to depict a typically British tea party gone wrong. Her approach to me was to ask about where to get some examples of poisonous plants to ‘hide’ amongst the tea party items to create further ambiguity in the video.
The timing, of course, meant that it wasn’t possible to use any real berries from something like Atropa belladonna, deadly nightshade or Taxus baccata, yew but I did send her some Strychnos nux-vomica, poison nut, seeds.
You can access the finished video either from the Granta website or directly on Kris’ website. Even if you don’t treat yourself to the publication you can use the content details to try and match the images to the stories.
It looks as though it must have been some tea party but I’m not sure I’d have wanted to tuck into some of the berries on those cakes and I particularly loved the fag-ends in the ashtray placed next to some Conium maculatum, poison hemlock in a vase. Which one is the bigger killer?
Kris very kindly sent me a copy of Granta when she returned the seeds. I noticed one of them seemed to have started to germinate. I think it may have started and died off but I planted it out straightaway.
It struck me that it might have been caused by being under the studio lights so I thought I’d try another batch, this time putting them under a powerful floodlight for an hour before planting them.
'Is That Cat Dead? - and other questions about poison plants' is now also available in Kindle form from Amazon.