Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Columnist

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Columnist

Article excerpt

Byline: DAVID BANKS

IT'S coming to summat in an auld gadgie's life when the missus has to replant his leeks, but it happened this week.

"Not deep enough," she told me. "They'll get wind rock and won't be fit for the pot, never mind the show bench." And with that she pulled on her wellies and went out to dig for (my) victory while I settled down to watch Holland-Australia.

She was a long time gone; the beans weren't staked properly, she had decided, and "the last of the asparagus needed cutting like I asked YOU to do", she barked. And my show onions had needed watering, she scolded.

Honestly! Anyone would think SHE did the gardening, I growled as I turned up the sound to drown out her Litany against Laziness. That's when an awful thought struck me ...

"Did anyone see you fettling my leeks?" I asked. Prize leeks are a serious business at the Red Lion; it wouldn't do at Leek Show time for the boys to think my Allium Monsterosa weren't all my own work.

"Did you put a bit of muck down under?" I called from the couch as Holland's third goal put the Aussies out of the World Cup and sent THEM back Down Under.

Muck's important. We're talking thoroughbreds here: at PS3 per plant (leastways, that's what the black-hearted landlord tells me he paid the Man from Ashington) leek plants need the sort of care you'd lavish on a Rooney or a Ronaldo.

And you don't mess about with the Ashington Leek Mafia. "They've got reputations to uphold," the Byreman once told me. "They only want to sire winners."

He's from Ashington himself, of course. Goes back every 10 years for a reunion meal with his old farming buddies.

They held their first dinner back in '74 at the Black Bull because all of those hot-blooded 30-somethings fancied the busty barmaid like mad. Ten years later they went back to the Black Bull because, although she'd moved on, the food was good and the pub had started serving decent wine.

By the time they were in their 60s priorities had changed: they chose the Black Bull in '94 because it was quiet and had a nice garden. …

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