Alan-A-Fail.

I was going to write a piece about Russian expansionist aggression, but then I started thinking about something that bothers me far more than that.

I wonder to myself: with all the shit going on in the world at the moment do we really need Alan Titchmarsh? What is he for? Whom does he serve? How much longer will he be alive? Not that I wish him dead, heavens no, it’s just that I’d really like to know when I can live a life without worrying about him being in my TV when I turn it on. He presents a show every Sunday morning on ITV called ‘Love Your Weekend with Alan Titchmarsh’, which seems to consist of him sitting on a bale of hay in some cosy barn conversion and interviewing what must be Britain’s least interesting celebrities. And then I expect some non-event of a third rate submarine galley chef makes some food and everyone is just so happy, because they’re so swept up in their baffling vanity they’ve become completely oblivious to the fact they are making some of the worst TV imaginable. It should be called ‘Love Your Weekend until Alan Titchmarsh’ or ‘Hate Your Life While You Watch This’.

I comes as no surprise that Alan Titchmarsh is a Yorkshireman. He has that smug look about him that can only be found on the severely deluded face of someone who has convinced themselves that being born in “God’s Own Country” grants them some form of special status. I’ve been to Leeds plenty of times and I can assure you that if Yorkshire was God’s Own Country then He would have razed quite a bit of it to the ground and started all over again. It is testament to the Yorkshire mentality that when shown the full options available for their little nipper, Mr and Mrs Titchmarsh Snr genuinely felt that ‘Fred’ would be the best choice for a middle name. Alan Fred Titchmarsh. Not what I would consider a head start in life. Sadly all that air of Yorkshire superiority only hides a bare truth that listening to a Yorkshireman in full flow about any sort of topic (they generally claim to be experts across the board) is exactly as much fun as listening to a saw going through sheet metal. Yorkshiremen like Titchmarsh are really on this earth to entertain no-one but themselves; if only they could do it in private.

If you think I’m an authority on Titchmarsh you’d be very much mistaken; it’s just that I find his entire career so bewildering that I’ve had to dig a bit deeper to save you the effort, confusion, misery and pain. From gardener to presenter to chat show host to novelist (generously offering a rare advantage to being illiterate) he’s even had a flutter at being a poet, as if poetry wasn’t already bad enough. Titchmarsh appears to be a man for all seasons (if every season was a Siberian winter), though realistically he is a semi-jack of all trades and a master of nowt much (as they say up north). He has made sub-par and approaching mediocrity virtues worth celebrating, partly because they are beyond his grasp, and I would say that anyone going to their grave having spent more than five minutes watching his content should do so in the knowledge that theirs was a wasted life and probably not worth living at all. This morning I noted that ‘Love Your Weekend with Alan Titchmarsh’ was followed immediately by ‘Love Your Garden with Alan Titchmarsh’, but I really couldn’t see how you could ever love any garden if it had him stood in the middle on the lawn, ee-bah-gumming about your rhododendrons, with a steaming hot mug of tea and ‘appens tha’d like a slice of muther’s parkin. Even plants must start to die from sustained indifference.

Other pitiful strings to his bow include an intimate, possibly treacherous, inspection of our monarch’s undergrowth in ‘The Queen’s Garden’, and a closer look at her life behind the most private door in ‘Prince Philip: 70 Years Of Service’. And alongside his gardening books and his many, inexplicable novels you can read that poetry I mentioned in ‘Marigolds, Myrtle and Moles: A Gardener’s Bedside Book’, alongside which you might want to keep a loaded service revolver and a couple of cyanide pills. But if you want the ultimate proof that, like Vladimir Putin, this man simply must be stopped, we must go back to where I started: it was twenty silent seconds I caught of him loving his weekend far more than I was mine, sometime in January, I think. It was Titchmarsh, in his barn, interviewing Eamon Holmes. A pair of greedy oxygen thieves, stroking one another’s veiny egos. And I thought: is this it? Have I just found the worst reason for the existence of television? Or humankind, come to that. I know things are looking bad in Ukraine, so why then do we live in a world where people choose to make this shit, knowing that others will choose to watch it. And on the basis of that I wonder if a nuclear war might do us all the world of good. You know, clear the air a bit. It would certainly be a lot more entertaining than watching Alan Titchmarsh doing pretty much anything.

G B Hewitt. 06.03.2022.

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