Saturday, June 29, 2002
I have a few quick questions. The first is this: How on earth do you manage to find the time to keep up with an online journal? I imagine you must be exceptionally busy with the number of projects you appear to have open at any given time, and it strikes me as being rather remarkable that you find the time to post.

Well, pretty much since I've had a modem (a 300/1000 baud one, about the size of a toshiba libretto, and we're in the late 80s here) I've kept up a certain amount of online stuff -- first on Compuserve's Comics Forum, then on Genie's SFRT, then on Compuserve's SF Media Forum and on the Well. This journal has retty much eaten the time I used to give to those kind of places (although I do a monthly dash through the Compuserve Forum, and I still read the great-great grandchild of the original Well Topic, and still post there, just not as much). It's also eaten some e-mail time. (I get a lot more "you never replied -- are you mad at me?" e-mails from friends and acquaintances than I used to.)

But it also saves time, particularly when it comes to answering questions that I'd get asked anyway. The Cody's reading, for example -- I put up enough information that I didn't have to answer fifty e-mails from friends-and-relations saying "Yes, I'll be doing a three hour reading in the Bay Area and here are the details..."

Mostly, it's fun, and I keep it up because a lot of this stuff going on in the background is incredibly interesting to me, and once I start typing then other bits creep in around the edges. If it stops being fun, or if I find myself getting up and looking blearily in the mirror and gloomily going "Oh god, today I have to write a journal entry..." then I'll stop.

(There are some weird bits. For example, on the one hand I know that we get around 90,000 people a month currently reading the journal, of whom I know perhaps a few hundred. On the other hand, I'm always slightly taken aback when a stranger tells me they read it.)

The second question might wind up being more than just one: In your journal, you often talk about your garden rather fondly. I wonder - how long have you enjoyed gardening, and what helped to develop your interest in it? On a side note (and less interesting a question, I imagine) - do you happen to watch BBC America's programs Ground Force or Homefront in the Garden? Thanks. Gloria Astrid

I suspect me and growing things is an essay for another time...

I've watched Ground Force a couple of times. Enjoyed it, but it's not really about gardening, or the thing I enjoy about gardening. I find BBC America to be an astonishingly frustrating channel -- I don't understand why they only have what seems like half a dozen shows they repeat over and over, nor why they feel impelled to break episodes of French and Saunders up into random chunks. Given the quantity of astonishingly good UK TV that no-one in the US has ever seen, repeating a dozen episodes of Ground Force or Changing Rooms daily for several years seems rather a waste.

(And as a side note for readers from the UK, I was given a DVD of "The Best of Morecambe and Wise" some months ago. It was mostly made up of early 70s clips from the BBC Morecambe and Wise show, which surprised me by often being as good as I remembered. I showed some of it to an American who will be nameless because she reads this journal, who laughed dutifully, and then, when we got to one of the sketches where Eric and Ernie were in bed (it's the one where Ernie's reading the Beano) asked when it was made. "Er. About 1973," I said. "Whoa," she said, "I mean, thirty years later they're only just showing gay people on American TV. That's amazing.")

I do still listen to Gardener's Question Time on BBC Radio 4, which still sounds exactly like it did when Terry and I made fun of it in Good Omens 13 years ago.