Chelsea Flower Toe....

Posted by Jeni in Ad Infinitum | 21 May 2011

Sooooooooo. Open toed sandals are not allowed.

Sooooooooo. Black tee shirts are not allowed.

Sooooooooo. Spelling my name incorrectly and offering me a pair of shoes that are two sizes too big and a green builders waistcoat are compensation are they?

Lets start from the beginning.

I left my lovely, quiet, peaceful, cottage at 10.00. After a long drive - it took hours today - I unloaded everything into the flat.

Went to the post box and took out my pass for The Chelsea Flower Show. Not a pass for Helmand District or the Lebanon. Not a pass for Syria of the Gaza Strip, a pass for the CFS, I was designated this piece of paper so I could do a 'recce' for my BBC show on Sunday.

I left immediately as I'm known for my punctuality. Walked to the bus stop and waited an eternity for the 170. Two came along together which was good as there were so many people waiting had there been only one bus a riot would have broken out on the streets of Battersea.

Took out the piece of paper with the pass and read the small print.

I had to show my pass at all times, I had to wear the correct clothing. Which meant no open toed sandals and nothing that couldn't been seen from a crane.

I looked down at my sized four feet and by no stroke of the imagination could my shoes be taken for anything other than open toed sandals that were chosen by me this morning because it was 22 degrees out there. My bare, brown shoulders and cardigan were not lime green with the name of a construction company emblazoned on the back. The day panned out before me and I knew - I mean I TOTALLY knew - that the Chelsea Flower Show was going to elude me. You could say I brought it on my self but....

Climbed off the bus at Gate 5. Walked through the Chelsea pensioners gates and was smiled at by an elderly man in a green flack jacket. Walked to the main entrance. A very nice - BIG - man apologised as he looked at my little feet and told me I had to walk round to the Spanish gate and get myself kitted out because he could not let me in attired as I was.

I was as sweet as candy and followed his directions. Walked past Jerome K Jerome's house, the blue plaque informing me that he had written 'Three Men in a Boat' . Doesn't help me, I thought, I was one woman in a pickle. Finally arrived at the designated gate, was sent into a portacabin where a woman with crumbs round her mouth looked at my little feet and offered me a pair of size 6 boots.

'I'm size 4' I said, by now just a little testy.

'Only got size 6' she said as she shoved a pair of boots in my hand, a pair of Jimmy Choos that would have accomodated the three men in Jeromes boat.

Then another girl came into the Portacabin and told me that the boots were for my own good. I nearly told her that I was 62 and really knew how to look after my feet in a garden centre but refrained. Then an elderly woman in another green flack jacket and very big Doc martins came in and told me how she was made to wear size 6 boots last year, got a blister which went septic and to add insult to injury her foot was stepped on by a health and safety official. Clearly wearing boots was no protection whatsoever....

'You have fairy feet' said another helpful helper.

Then another girl wearing green and blacks looked me up and down and said, without speaking, that I was totally unsuitable to walk round The Chelsea Flower Show. Quite what they thought could happen to me on the Chelsea Embankment without military style attire is beyond me, however, her look said it all so I said, in my best Anglo Saxon, that I had travelled up from East Sussex and that I had no intention of waiting for them to find the telephone number to call Health and Safety to find out whether I could be allowed to walk round their blooming tents in heavy duty sandals.

'Wait' they shrieked, lets see what we can do.

I did not wait.

I could not be bothered to find out whether I was going to be allowed to tippy toe through the corridors of flowers wearing open toed howsyourfathers.

I called Esther, my producer, who made all the right noises. But I needed to let off steam properly so....

I called the old git - he didn't answer.

I called his mobile - he didn't answer.

I called the daughter - she was in the middle of singing.

My three best friends are away.

One is on a remote Scottish island.

Another in Rome.

Another on a Pilgrimage to Bosnia.

My mother is out of commission. So who else to call?

The Barry was on a train so I called Dan the man. He was in Pembrokeshire, but lent me his ears, by the the time I got to 'Open toed Sandals' we were cut off. deliberately? Maybe! Clearly my plight was not that important to anybody in my life.

I arrived back in Battersea Square, went into Bennetts Oyster bar, and over a cuppa coffee celebrated Shirley's 49th birthday and thought that however much I love flowers The Chelsea Flower Show has got too big for its boots or - should I say, sandals?

Jeni Barnett tells of her scrumptious time at Good Food Live in her first audiobook! Download NOW from iTunes

Comments

1. At May 21, 2011 8:30 PM Rob Gaydon wrote:

Jeni

I would have placed a hyphen after the 'or' of your final word; a comma after 'say' and a question mark after 'sandals'.

2. At May 21, 2011 9:10 PM Lindy Fleetwood wrote:

Oh ! I know you were cross but my goodness this made me laugh !! elf and safety get everywhere these days. Given I have been known to garden often in bare feet and with my gnomes and elfs (elves) watching and not one of them has every made me put on hob nailed boots and a high viz!! Anyway gnomes and elfs (elves) are not allowed at Chelsea !! Love to all xxhugxx

3. At May 21, 2011 10:56 PM Rhianon wrote:

Yeah, health and safety, eh? Tell me. Gets everywhere. Like...., never mind. I just deleted what I wrote on account of you couldn't print it. Shouldn't print it...well, you know. Too many people making up rules so that they can keep overpaid jobs doing nothing but messing up other peoples work.

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