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Pontifications on Poison

Being some ramblings on events associated with poisonous plants.

February 2013

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Wednesday 27th February 2013

The death of any young person is a tragedy for their friends and family and, when that young person is a celebrity of any degree, the media attention resulting from the death can only add to the distress.

Without wishing to add my own, albeit tiny, contribution to that distress the way the media reported the inquest into the death of the cricketer, Tom Maynard, demonstrates, once again, how prejudice trumps fact in these sorts of stories...more

Tuesday 26th February 2013

Begin by assuming that Kathy Gyngell is an intelligent person and well-versed in the use of the English language. I think that assumption is important because the alternative is that she has no idea of how to present information truthfully. If I couldn’t assume that she is choosing her words and phrases carefully in the hope of misdirecting my opinion that I’d be forced into the sort of ad hominem attack for her sloppy work that I abhor.

So, when Gyngell writes something, as she has on the Centre for Policy Studies website, you must expect that she has deployed all her craft to gain support for her argument...more

Friday 22nd February 2013

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you’ll know that I’m a fan of ‘The West Wing’ because I written about the way some of its themes read across to the real world. If you are familiar with the series, you’ll know that one of those regular themes is about polling and surveys. There are a number of discussions about the importance of wording when seeking the views of the public.

Talking about the results of a question without discussing the nuances of how the question was phrased can lead to an inaccurate portrayal of a situation. And there is also the selection of the polling results that most suit your convinced position...more

Wednesday 20th February 2013

I’ve decided I’m a disappointed gardener. I’ve had my garden for nearly twelve years so I’m, clearly, not ‘inexperienced’ and ‘amateur’ would be an insult to the many excellent gardeners who do wonderful things with plants just for the enjoyment. But I’m not a lazy gardener because I do make the effort to get out into the garden when possible.

It was possible at the weekend and that’s when I decided I am ‘disappointed’. In my mind, I was going into the garden to dig over the ground around my rosebushes so as to end up with a lovely weed-free, fine tilth. By the time I’d finished, I’d got great lumps of clay giving an appearance similar to the ploughed field at the bottom of the garden...more

Monday 18th February 2013

Though I profess to pay little attention to the use of poisons in fiction I’m returning to the subject today.

Most fiction takes liberties with the truth about poisons for the entirely justifiable reason that the plot would not stand up if the authors were completely accurate. In a recent episode of BBC1’s ‘Death in Paradise’, the victim died after drinking a cocktail loaded with strychnine from Strychnos nux-vomica, the poison nut tree. For the plot to work, she had to knock the drink back with no mention of the extreme bitter taste of the toxin. If, as would happen in real life, she had spat out the drink as soon as it touched her taste buds, the plot would have collapsed...more

Saturday 16th February 2013

Another day when two apparently unconnected events came together in my mind. Both were contacts made via this site.

The first was an enquiry from a writer. I won’t go into the specifics because that would be unfair if anyone, at some point in the future, were reading a new book and realised they’d heard about it by reading this blog...more

Sunday 10th February 2013

You wouldn’t think that BBC Radio4’s long-running programme, Gardeners’ Question Time (GQT), with its sedate pace and careful politeness would provoke even the mildest outbreak of rage but, last Friday’s edition succeeded.

In spite of its outsourcing to independent producers some years ago, the core of the show remains very much the same as it always was and it has resisted moving itself into the radio zeitgeist of the 2010s. Or almost, because there have been changes, of course, and it was one of these that stirred my emotion..more

Friday 1st February 2013

February already. I’m not so rash as to think we have put the worst of the winter behind us but it is true that February brings clear signs that winter is slowly beginning to give way to spring. I’m hearing reports, from the south-west of England and even from the west coast of Scotland, of Eranthis hyemalis (winter aconite), Galanthus nivalis (snowdrop) and Narcissus spp. (daffodil) all coming into flower, the last in only a very few locations it is true.

These reports have been enough to set me thinking about my own garden planting for this year. At this time, I should be starting to think about starting some seeds but, with no guarantee that this summer will be an improvement on the last few, I’m finding myself reluctant to put in the effort of tending seeds for the next three months in case, as last year, the plants I produce never mature once planted out in the garden..more

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